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Whitworth Professor Authors University’s First and Second Patents with Groundbreaking Research that Could Change the Future of PCR Testing

May 12, 2023

Philip Measor, Ph.D., assistant professor of engineering & physics, has made history at Whitworth University by authoring and co-authoring the university’s first and second patents.

His collaborative research over five years with 19 students and Whitworth faculty members Kent Jones, professor of mathematics & computer science, and Aaron Putzke, professor of biology, could one day significantly reduce the time it takes to receive critical test results for patients experiencing viral infections (like COVID-19, flu and colds), bacterial infections or other pathogens.

“Philip Measor’s patent has the potential to bring about a significant change in the medical field,” says Gregor Thuswaldner, provost & executive vice president. “One of its advantages is that it may enable doctors to conduct tests within their own offices, eliminating the need to send samples to labs and wait for days to obtain results. In critical situations, this could mean the difference between life and death. Philip’s outstanding invention is a testimony to the remarkable research output at Whitworth University, which, unlike most larger institutions, frequently involves collaborations between professors and students.”

Measor founded the Microdevices Lab at Whitworth in 2018. He and his students produced a custom 3D printer setup capable of making microdevices, devices with features at the microscale (on the scale of the thickness of a human hair), much more cheaply than the traditional approach that uses silicon microfabrication. 

Among their many achievements, they were also the first to study the optical properties of common transparent 3D printing resins and the first to demonstrate a low-loss ridge waveguide using stereolithographic (SLA) 3D printing. Measor has also invented a new optical microdevice that could have future biosensor applications. He filed a patent on this work in November 2019, “3D printed optofluidic device and methods of fabrication,” and was awarded Whitworth’s first patent in January 2020 (US Patent #11383429-B211,383,429). 

“Philip Measor’s boundless energy and visionary spirit are contagious,” says John Pell, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Whether working with talented undergraduates or brilliant faculty colleagues in the departments of biology, mathematics & computer science and engineering & physics, Philip’s research is indicative of the STEM culture we are building at Whitworth, a culture grounded in collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and abiding faith in our students’ potential. His groundbreaking research and industry-changing patent provide further evidence of Whitworth’s standing as a premier undergraduate institution in the West. 

Measor teamed up with Jones when they found themselves in the middle of an actual global pandemic. They began to see how 3D printed microdevices could substantially change the detection speed of COVID-19 PCR testing. Instead of waiting days for PCR test results, their findings could slash that time to less than 30 minutes. They realized not only could this microdevice be used to test for COVID-19, but any pathogen with a known RNA or DNA sequence. Measor and Jones applied for the second patent in January 2022 (Measor and Jones, US Patent Application #63/299,156). 

“What we have demonstrated is a new method to perform PCR testing using a 3D printed microdevice, adding extra utility than other tests, that will likely be 100 times faster and cheaper to fabricate than standard microfabrication methods. This work is still in its early phase, but is extremely promising,” Measor says.

Measor’s research was recently presented by one of his students, Kristi Shaka ’24, at Photonics West 2023, one of the world’s largest photonics conferences.

To read more about Measor’s background and research, visit the Microdevices Lab website.

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of about 2,500 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or