Hashem Akhavan-Tafti, PhD

2011 Edwin F. Ullman Award

Dr. Akhavan-Tafti is vice president of research for Beckman Coulter’s immunoassay and molecular diagnostics business group in Southfield, Mich., where he manages a team of scientists researching innovative detection technologies for clinical and life-science laboratories. He began his career in 1989 at Lumigen, and stayed on after that company was acquired by Beckman Coulter. Dr. Akhavan-Tafti holds more than 70 U.S. patents and more than 100 international patents related to chemiluminescent substrates used in medical diagnostic assays, and these inventions have had a profound impact on the field of chemiluminescence. Substrates he invented are used worldwide in automated systems for the chemiluminescent detection of alkaline phosphatase conjugates and in ultrasensitive assays in life-science research and human identity testing. More than a billion tests are conducted annually using these substrates. His team has refined methods for chemiluminescent enhancement, developed applications for DNA and protein detection using chemiluminescence, and developed methods for nucleic acid purification. Just a few specific examples of the advances developed under his direction include: Lumigen PPD, Lumi-Phos 530, and Lumigen APS-5 enzyme substrates are used worldwide in clinical diagnostic assays. SPARCL is an innovative no-wash immunoassay technology that offers significant time savings in high-throughput screening. SNAP is a novel nucleic acid isolation chemistry that will be featured on a fully automated molecular diagnostics system expected to accelerate the migration of molecular diagnostic testing to hospital laboratories.