Damira Kanayeva

School of Sciences and Humanities, National Laboratory Astana, Laboratory of Biophotonics and imaging, Immunobiology Laboratory, Biology
Assistant Professor
+7 7172 706642


  • Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA (2010)
  • M.S. in Biotechnology, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan (2005) 
  • B.S., Ecology and Nature Management, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan (2003)

Dr. Damira Kanayeva joined Nazarbayev University in 2011. Since then she has been actively involved in teaching, research, and service as well. Dr. Kanayeva established research direction in the field of biosensors and biodetection at NU, which represents a promising option for developing reliable, simple, and affordable tools for the effective detection of pathogens. She is an advisor of several undergraduate and graduate students, who are actively pursuing their degrees in the field of biomedical engineering. Undergraduate team of biology students supervised by Dr. Kanayeva received bronze (2014) and silver (2015) medals in a worldwide synthetic biology competition iGEM. She is the PI of ongoing state target program as well as grants. She is also a member of professional societies and honorary organizations such as Phi Kappa Phi (USA). She received her Ph.D. degree in cell and molecular biology from University of Arkansas (USA) with biosensors being a primary focus of her studies. Dr. Kanayeva previously served as an acting director of the Interdisciplinary Instrumental Center at NU. Currently, Dr. Kanayeva holds position of an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, School of Science and Technology at NU.


  • Biosensors
  • Biodetection
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology


  • Biosensor for rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Biosensor for screening of cancer biomarkers
  • Selection of ssDNA aptamers

Selection, characterization, and application of DNA aptamers for detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis secreted protein MPT64

Rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), an etiological agent of tuberculosis (TB), is important for global control of this disease. Aptamers have emerged as a potential rival for antibodies in therapeutics, diagnostics and biosensing due to their inherent characteristics. The aim of the current study was to select and characterize single-stranded DNA aptamers against MPT64 protein, one of the predominant secreted proteins of Mtb pathogen. Aptamers specific to MPT64 protein were selected in vitro using systematic evolution of ligands through exponential enrichment (SELEX) method. The selection was started with a pool of ssDNA library with randomized 40-nucleotide region. A total of 10 cycles were performed and seventeen aptamers with unique sequences were identified by sequencing. Dot Blot analysis was performed to monitor the SELEX process and to conduct the preliminary tests on the affinity and specificity of aptamers. Enzyme linked oligonucleotide assay (ELONA) showed that most of the aptamers were specific to the MPT64 protein with a linear correlation of R2=0.94 for the most selective.  Using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), dissociation equilibrium constant KD of 8.92 nM was obtained. Bioinformatics analysis of the most specific aptamers revealed the existence of a conserved as well as distinct sequences and possible binding site on MPT64. The specificity was determined by testing non-target ESAT-6 and CFP-10. Negligible cross-reactivity confirmed the high specificity of the selected aptamer. The selected aptamer was further tested on clinical sputum samples using ELONA and had sensitivity and specificity of 91.3% and 90%, respectively.  Microscopy, culture positivity and nucleotide amplification methods were used as reference standards.  The aptamers studied could be further used for the development of medical diagnostic tools and detection assays for Mtb.


  • BIOL 305 Introduction to Microbiology with Laboratory
  • BIOL 120 Modern Biology II with Laboratory
  • BIOL 299 Biology Internship
  • BIOL 241 Special Topics in Synthetic Biology
  • BIOL 101 Biology for non-Science majors
  • BIOL 492 Directed Study in Biology
  • CHEM 92 Survey of Environmental Sciences for Non-Science Majors
  • BIOL 560 Molecular Biology of Prokaryotic Cells
  • BIOL 600 Graduate Seminar Series


Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biology, NU (2011-present)
  • Senior Research Scientist, Lab. of Biosensors and Bioinstruments, NU (2012-2014)
  • Research Scientist, Department of Nanobiotechnology, Center for Energy Research, NU (2011-2012)
  • Senior Graduate Research Assistant, Biosensors Laboratory, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA  (2006-2010)                                                         
  • Instructor, Adilet Academy of Jurisprudence – Graduate School of Law, Almaty, Kazakhstan (2004-2005)
  • Lab Assistant, Institute of Microbiology and Virology, Almaty, Kazakhstan (2001-2003)

Administrative Appointment

  • Acting Director, Interdisciplinary Instrumental Center, NU (2014-2015)


  • Represented women’s community of Kazakhstan at a Meeting “Koktem Shuagy” with the Head of State, Nursultan Nazarbayev, dedicated to the International Women’s Day. Ak Orda, 8 March, 2016.
  • Certificate of Merit, Ministry of Education and Science, Republic of Kazakhstan,  2015.
  • Letter of Appreciation, Nazarbayev University,  2015.
  • Letter of Appreciation, Nazarbayev University, 2011.
  • Certificate of Merit, Graduate Student Poster Competition, Arkansas Association for Food Protection Educational Conference, Springdale, Arkansas, USA; September 28, 2010.
  • Student Travel Award. American Society for Microbiology, 110th General Meeting, San Diego, California, USA; May 23-27, 2010. 
  • 2nd Place Award. Oral Ph.D Presentation, Student Research Competition; Gamma Sigma Delta–The Honor Society of Agriculture. Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; March 2, 2010.
  • Kazakhstan Presidential Bolashak Scholarship (administered by JSC “Center for International Programs”, the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science) for doctoral degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas (AR, USA), 2005 – 2010.
  • Honor Award for the best report submitted to the 59th Republican Scientific Conference of Young Researchers and Students. Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2005.