August 12, 2021 Yesilkoy lands grant to improve COVID-19 immunity monitoring Written By: Tom Ziemer Departments: Biomedical Engineering Categories Grants Filiz Yesilkoy, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will use a Wisconsin Partnership Program grant to create a portable antibody test that could allow for wider COVID-19 immunity monitoring across the state, including in rural and low-income urban settings. Initially, Yesilkoy, who specializes in creating small biosensor devices, plans to develop a point-of-care biosensor platform to profile antigen-specific antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) from human samples. Long term, she hopes to create a user-friendly, cost-effective and readily deployable testing platform that would use small blood samples from finger pricks to detect both vaccination status and past infections, allowing for improved immunity screening amid the rise of new virus variants. The tests would not require trained healthcare personnel or clinical labs, allowing for easier use in settings with limited access to healthcare facilities. The two-year grant is through the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s COVID-19 Response Research and Education Grant Program. Yesilkoy is principal investigator for the project, while Miriam Shelef, an associate professor in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Medicine, and Irene Ong, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, are collaborators.