An Integrated, Electrokinetics-Augmented Microfluidic Device for Forensic DNA Analysis

Award Information
Department of Defense
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
DTRA 09-003
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
CFD Research Corporation
215 Wynn Dr., 5th Floor, Huntsville, AL, 35805
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Yi Wang
Senior Engineer
(256) 327-0678
Business Contact:
Deborah Phipps
Senior Contracts Specialist
(256) 726-4884
Research Institution:
OBJECTIVE: Develop a small, field portable forensic DNA capability that performs rapid DNA analysis for comparison against PC-based or Web-based forensic DNA databases. This device should be able to perform forensic DNA analysis on swabs collected from incident sites. DESCRIPTION: Forensic DNA analysis is routinely performed on evidence collected from incident sites or swabs obtained from known individuals. This analysis is typically performed in a fixed facility and leverages several different pieces of equipment to produce a DNA profile. Forensic DNA analysis has the ability to provide crucial information on individuals that may have built or had contact with IED's or potential bioagents. The ability to conduct rapid forensic DNA analysis on post blast IEDs, and objects/containers involved in WMD activities can provide significant insight into who may have manufactured or transported the device, and what agents it may contain. This information can be used by commanders and warfighters to increase their situational awareness and enhance their battle management capabilities. The ability to conduct rapid forensic DNA analysis in the field on swabs and exchange that information with PC-based or Web-based DNA databases will prove valuable in verifying identity and matching against profiles obtained from IEDs and other items. The end product should be a field portable device that performs all procedures required to produce a forensic DNA Profile including extraction, quantitation, amplification, separation, and analysis. The device should be able to perform Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), provide single base pair resolution, and produce outputs capable of being exchanged with PC-based or Web-based forensic DNA databases. The device should be operable in a variety of environments, temperatures, and conditions and be physically robust and reliable. It is also beneficial if individuals with minimal scientific training are able to operate the device. Current technologies such as liquid handlers, thermal cyclers, and genetic analyzers/sequencers do exist that perform individual steps of the forensic DNA analysis process but are designed to work in a laboratory environment. This device should combine these capabilities into a single device and be capable of conducting forensic DNA analysis in a mobile asset or facility on the battlefield. PHASE I: Fabricate a proof-of-concept prototype and demonstrate which forensic DNA analysis processes can be integrated into the end device. PHASE II: Fabricate 1 prototype field portable forensic DNA analysis device and demonstrate success in producing DNA profiles with a commercially available STR PCR amplification kit. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The proposed device may be used for rapid biological relationship testing or traditional state and local crime laboratory forensic DNA analysis at crime scenes. REFERENCES: 1. National Research Council. 2009. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. Washington, D.C. National Academy Press. 2. Budowle, B. Toward a System of Microbial Forensics: from Sample Collection to Interpretation of Evidence. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, May 2005, p. 2209-2213. 3. Presidents DNA Initiative (, Research on Miniaturization and Automation of DNA analysis: 4. Tontarski, R. Defense Forensic Enterprise System, Presented to the National Academies of Sciences, Needs of the Forensic Science Community, September 21, 2007. 5. The U.S. Department of Defense New Idea Portal, DoD Needs in Battlefield Forensics,

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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