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Jeffrey La Belle

Assistant Professor Research
School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and the Biodesign Institute

Leading use-inspired research:

La Belle’s research focus on noninvasive sensing and point-of-care technologies has led to a number of projects that tackle societal challenges. Some of his current projects include:

  • sensors that have the ability to read multiple biomarkers and hold more information on one sensor for more accurate monitoring and management of diabetes among other diseases;
  • non-invasive tears TOUCH glucose sensors that utilize tear samples rather than blood to encourage diabetes patients to test regularly;
  • sensors that will sense and act on changes in HDL/LDL levels or intercellular changes to detect cancer;
  • wearable stress sensors to provide continuous measurement and warn in potentially dangerous situations
  • sensors that can detect unwanted metal or pharmaceutical levels in flowing water;
  • prosthetic muscles using Nitinol, a memory wire that can be used to replicate the function of real muscles without the typical electrical or mechanical systems; and
  • functional models of the body that enable a cheaper alternative for professionals to study and train—the goal is to create a chest cavity and simulate breathing.

Supporting student success:

La Belle has 30 students, freshman to Ph.D., working in the labs. This is truly a multidisciplinary environment with students from mechanical, electrical, chemical and bioengineering along with computer science and biology programs. Many of La Belle’s students have aspirations to attend graduate or medical school. He’s proud to say that he was able to convert at least one to return to engineering into the M.D./Ph.D. program at Stanford to pursue medical and graduate studies.

In the lab, students have access to sensor fabrication equipment to make sensors and casting equipment to make bones. La Belle helps facilitate opportunities with industry so that students experience real-world projects outside the lab throughout their educational experience.

He has collaborations with a wide range of organizations including the VA Clinic, Mayo Arizona, the Flexible Display Center as well as with other Fulton Schools of Engineering faculty.

He is also encouraging future Sun Devils through a year-long, after-school internship for high school students.

Looking forward:

The challenges of early detection and effective management of leading diseases such as diabetes, cardiac issues, cancer and infectious diseases continue to inspire La Belle. He says that home healthcare is another issue as the number of doctors is not increasing. Doctors need reliable patient data—something that new sensor technologies can help track and transmit. He also sees opportunities to make strides in preventive care using sensor technologies.

Learn more about La Belle’s research:


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