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Watson Lecture: Wei Gao Shares His Advances in Wearable Biosensors for Better Health Management

BY Katie Neith, CALTECH
Published on Nov 30, 2023

What if a small wearable sensor could help you and your doctor monitor disease, stress, hormone levels, and more? On Wednesday, December 13, at 7:30 p.m. PT in Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium, Wei Gao, assistant professor of medical engineering, Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator, and Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar, will discuss his work on chemical biosensors that analyze human sweat to track important health measures such as metabolites, nutrients, hormones, proteins, and medication levels.

In a public talk called “Wearable Biosensors and the Future of Personalized Medicine” that continues the 101st season of the Watson Lectures, Gao will describe the tremendous opportunities that personalized medicine presents and explain how noninvasive, wearable technologies may propel new advances in precision nutrition, stress and mental health assessment, and chronic disease management.

“My interests in biomedical engineering started when I realized that people I loved passed away because of the lack of technologies to diagnose and treat different types of diseases,” says Gao, whose grandmother died from a stroke that was identified too late. “By analyzing human sweat using a wearable sensor, we could collect large sets of information that could be used for health monitoring and disease diagnosis. And very importantly, the information could give us early warnings for preventative care.”

Starting at 6 p.m., several researchers from Gao’s lab will share prototypes of their biosensors outside Beckman Auditorium.

Originally from China, Gao earned a PhD in chemical engineering from UC San Diego in 2014. Prior to coming to Caltech in 2017, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley. Gao’s research focus is on the development of novel devices for medical applications such as flexible biosensors for real-time continuous health monitoring and nanomachines for rapid drug delivery. His lab is made up of interdisciplinary researchers interested in fundamental materials innovation and practical applications in translational medicine.

The Watson Lectures offer new opportunities each month to hear how Caltech’s premier researchers are tackling society’s most pressing challenges and inventing the technologies of the future. Join friends and neighbors outside Beckman Auditorium to enjoy food, drinks, and music together before each lecture. Interactive displays related to the evening’s topic will give audience members additional context and information. The festivities start at 6 p.m. Guests are also encouraged to stay for post-talk coffee and tea as well as the chance to converse with attendees and researchers.

Learn more about the Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series and its history at

Watson Lectures are free and open to the public. Register online. A recording will be made available after the live event.

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