Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Bruce McCord

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

John Landrum

Third Advisor's Name

John Berry

Fourth Advisor's Name

Watson Lees

Fifth Advisor's Name

Martin Tracey


DNA typing, Forensics, microfluidics, STRs, Pentameric, Direct PCR, Rapid PCR

Date of Defense



There are situations in which it is very important to quickly and positively identify an individual. Examples include suspects detained in the neighborhood of a bombing or terrorist incident, individuals detained attempting to enter or leave the country, and victims of mass disasters. Systems utilized for these purposes must be fast, portable, and easy to maintain. The goal of this project was to develop an ultra fast, direct PCR method for forensic genotyping of oral swabs.

The procedure developed eliminates the need for cellular digestion and extraction of the sample by performing those steps in the PCR tube itself. Then, special high-speed polymerases are added which are capable of amplifying a newly developed 7 loci multiplex in under 16 minutes. Following the amplification, a postage stamp sized microfluidic device equipped with specially designed entangled polymer separation matrix, yields a complete genotype in 80 seconds. The entire process is rapid and reliable, reducing the time from sample to genotype from 1-2 days to under 20 minutes. Operation requires minimal equipment and can be easily performed with a small high-speed thermal-cycler, reagents, and a microfluidic device with a laptop. The system was optimized and validated using a number of test parameters and a small test population. The overall precision was better than 0.17 bp and provided a power of discrimination greater than 1 in 106.

The small footprint, and ease of use will permit this system to be an effective tool to quickly screen and identify individuals detained at ports of entry, police stations and remote locations. The system is robust, portable and demonstrates to the forensic community a simple solution to the problem of rapid determination of genetic identity.





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