Biodefense Expert

Daniel Lim

Distinguished University Professor in Biology

Director of the Advanced Biosensors Laboratory, Center for Biological Defense




In the event of a suspected bioterror attack, USF microbiologist Daniel Lim knows that time is of the essence. “Rapid testing to detect potentially deadly hazards in the air, food, water or blood is vital to national security,” he says. “Positive testing could quickly initiate public health efforts and prevent the spread of disease. Negative results could allay public fears and prevent mass panic.”


As director the Advanced Biosensors Laboratory located at USF’s Research Park, Lim and his interdisciplinary team of microbiologists, molecular biologists, immunologists and biochemists have gained international recognition for their expertise in the development and implementation of innovative biosensor assays. These assays integrate a biological component such as an antibody with an electronic instrument to produce a measurable signal that detects dangerous bacteria or toxins. While traditional testing methods take hours or days to produce results, Lim’s portable biosensor tests can detect dangerous pathogens in just minutes.


In fact, Lim received the nation’s highest homeland security award from the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation for developing tests that can rapidly detect biological agents like anthrax, ricin and smallpox, as well as common biological threats like E. coli bacteria in food, water, air and infectious disease specimens. Lim joined USF in 1976, and over the years his research has been funded by the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, NASA and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.


In addition to bioterrorism preparedness, there are other applications for the technology being developed in Lim’s lab. Biosensor assay systems can be used to safeguard the nation’s food supply by detecting bacteria on produce even before it leaves the farm so tainted food doesn’t reach consumers. Other potential users include municipal water utilities, hospitals, public health agencies and operators of recreational facilities and tourist attraction.


“This technology has widespread practical application and tremendous potential impact,” says Lim. “USF has been highly supportive of research, and I’m pleased to be part of one of the top-ranked universities in the nation.”


-- Mary Beth Erskine, University Communications & Marketing