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ASU researchers on verge of medical breakthrough

PHOENIX -- We have trillions of germs in our body.

"You have bacteria in your gut, on your skin, in your eyes," said Arizona State University professor Mark A. Hayes. "I know it sounds gross, but a lot of these are very favorable partners in our lives."

But some of the bacteria are bad. Hayes said his team has developed a microfluidic chip that can help doctors tell which are good and which are bad.

"Imagine a microscope slide. On that microscope slide, we've etched some channels with the same technology that you make computer microchips with," he said. "We are able to take those small channels, put some fluids and some blood -- and obviously bacteria and other materials in there -- and isolate and concentrate the good ones from the bad ones."

Hayes said that the chip could lead to an earlier medical diagnosis and treatment. He's been working on this for about 20 years. The chip is about one year away from trials at several Valley hospitals.

"Once we show that we can prevent people from getting classic staph infections and prevent people from spreading infections in the hospitals by treating and identifying those diseases quickly, (the use of the microfluidic chip) will spread like wildfire (to hospitals throughout the country)," said Hayes.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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