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Seven days into the coronavirus pandemic, without having any prior experience with studying infectious diseases, and in the middle of moving his lab from Illinois to Maryland, Dipanjan Pan and his research team began developing a rapid test for COVID-19.

While Pan and his team may not have been experts in infectious diseases, they are experts in developing nanomaterials for biomedical purposes. Pan leads the Pan Laboratory for Materials in Medicine, or MatMed, through the partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Pan recalls feeling a strong sense of urgency driving him and his team to pivot their research to develop the rapid test, and he knew that the rapid test needed to detect the virus as early as the first sign of infection.

After six months, the team had fully developed its first test, and by the end of 2021, researchers developed four more. Three of the tests Pan and his team developed have been licensed for commercialization, including the Antisense test, which was recently registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

The newest test Pan and his team developed uses an electrochemical biosensor that can accurately detect the coronavirus in minutes, regardless of the variant. The test is also accurate as early as the first day of infection and simultaneously tests for influenza, letting test-takers know if their symptoms are from COVID-19, the flu or both. This biosensor technology has applications for the detection of other infectious diseases and Pan’s team has won awards for their work and contributions to COVID-19 research.

In addition to his research, Pan holds positions as a professor of pediatrics and diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at UMB and as a professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering at UMBC.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.