Once again, it is time for my annual review of DNA Genotek’s year and to highlight the top 10 items that I believe made an impact in 2013. Like previous years, there’s been a lot of exciting activity and choosing only 10 items is always a challenge. After much reflection, these are the 10 things that I will remember most about 2013 at DNA Genotek.
- In 2013 we added HEMAgene™•BUFFY COAT to our product portfolio. HEMAgene™•BUFFY COAT stabilizing reagent maintains high molecular weight DNA in buffy coat samples at ambient temperature for both newly collected samples as well as for buffy coat samples that have been frozen. Why does this matter? It offers customers total protection of their precious buffy coat samples. Using the HEMAgene•BUFFY COAT stabilizing reagent, customers can eliminate cold chain for transportation and ensures that DNA is stable long-term either stored at room temperature or through freeze/thaw cycles when stored frozen. This is a significant benefit to biobanks who can save funds by maximizing the amount of DNA they can recover from each sample. It’s also significant because it’s the first time we introduced a product for a sample type other than saliva.
- The work we do with our DNA Genotek Helping Hands Program was another highlight for me in 2013. We launched the Spit for Africa program, a sponsorship program in conjunction with the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG). Spit for Africa is designed to improve access and reduce the cost of DNA collection for locally and internationally funded genomic projects. We also supported the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative project to facilitate event-based DNA collections where hundreds of samples were collected over the period of a couple of days. This ongoing study is designed to determine the risk of hereditary breast cancer in women in the Bahamian population. I'm excited about the potential for new discoveries through these projects.
- We continued to offer innovative ways for researchers to advance their work with two new award programs in 2013. The first was the GenoFIND Genomic Services Award, which was designed to facilitate analysis of nucleic acid samples. In March of 2013, we awarded $10,000 US in GenoFIND services to a project studying Neurocognition, Genetics and Adolescent Substance Abuse. The second award program was the ‘Your Choice’ Award in which three awards were granted offering a choice of DNA Genotek products and/or GenoFIND Genomic Services to facilitate sample collection and genetic analysis. The winning applicants represented a variety of research areas around the world. It will be exciting to watch these projects move forward in 2014 and to share any discoveries with you.
- We saw many of our customers make progress with their research projects in 2013 and we were so fortunate to have 3 of them present their findings at the European Society for Human Genetics (ESHG) Conference in Paris in June. Not only was it enlightening to hear how our products have facilitated these exciting initiatives, but the audience in attendance learned about three novel applications in complex biomarker analysis – telomere analysis, exome sequencing and methylation profiling. We heard from Telome Health, Aviir Diagnostic Laboratories, and SickKids hospital. The presentation from SickKids featured Dr. Paul Arnold who was the winner of the DNA Genotek Grant Program in 2012 and we are thrilled with the progress he is making on his study. These three presentations are a small sampling of the great work being done with our Oragene saliva collection kits. Watch our blog for updates and links to these presentations.
- I’m very proud to say that in 2013, we surpassed 1000 scientific publications referencing our Oragene collection kits. Each year, there are more and more research projects using Oragene and seeing the array of discoveries of our customers in so many of these in scientific journals is rewarding for all of us.
- Oragene is truly a DNA collection device that has a global impact. In 2013, we learned of many new research projects that use our DNA collection kits to reach populations and geographies that would be impossible with any other collection method. One example is a project led by Dr. Khai Chung Ang, a researcher studying the genetics of human skin color and susceptibility to melanoma. Based at Penn State College of Medicine, Dr. Ang and team have been utilizing Oragene to assist in the collection of DNA samples from ethnic populations on opposite ends of the world. Dr. Ang is collecting one thousand DNA samples from three different populations: a Malaysian population to represent East Asians, an Amerindian population in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean, and participants in the United States. There are many more examples of the global impact of our products and you can see them all on our blog, The Genetic Link.
- One of my highlights comes from a well known expert in the field of genomics. Eric Schadt, Ph.D., and director of The Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai, is an expert on the generation and integration of large-scale sequence variation, molecular profiling, and clinical data in disease populations. In early 2013, he was asked what major advances he expects to see from genomic research over the next five years. One of his highlights was that microbiomes in and around us will be shown to influence behavior. In the past year, there’s been growing interest in microbiome research and we expect to see more. Dr. Schadt also made a number of other predictions which you can read about here. The ability to effectively collect and stabilize samples and to maintain profiles of in vivo state, what we call ‘snap shotting’, is key to success in these areas. We look forward to watching and participating in progress in this emerging field.
- One of the highlights of DNA Genotek’s 2013 events calendar is the American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG) conference. It is the largest gathering of genetic researchers in North America each year and we were so excited to see our customers from the Coriell Institute for Medical Research present on their use of our Oragene saliva collection kits as part of the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative (CPMC). In their poster presentation, they reported the following:
“To date, the study has successfully processed more than 5000 samples on the DMET Plus array with an average call rate of 99.59%...... The use of saliva generated genomic DNA in the Affymetrix DMET Plus assay has proven to be very successful and has allowed the CPMC to expand its genotyping options while maintaining a single DNA source.”
We are pleased that our products are playing a role in one of the most comprehensive personalized medicine research projects in the world.
- In previous top 10 lists, you’ve read about how passionate and committed our employees are to our customers. While this remains one of our key priorities, I want to tell you about another way our employees make a difference. In addition to their outstanding work with our customers, DNA Genotek employees are committed to the health care community in other ways. Each year, I watch them band together to raise funds for a variety of health projects ranging from breast cancer, to cardiac care, to prostate cancer. DNA Genotek employees raise funds all year for these charities and do it in their personal time through bake sales, raffles, silent auctions, chilli cook-offs and more. Each of these small gestures adds up to a major contribution to important charities. I couldn’t be more proud of our employees and the role they play as community leaders.
- 2013 marked the 15th anniversary of DNA Genotek and it’s been an amazing 15 years. From the initial creation of a powerful chemistry that could stabilize DNA from saliva to our latest products that stabilize new sample types like blood components, our goal is to continue to create products and services that will allow our customers to enable significant worldwide health improvements. I want to thank our employees for their commitment to the company and for their outstanding support of our customers. I also want to thank our customers for everything they do to advance and improve global health care. I celebrate your achievements and wish you much continued success.
That brings my top 10 list to a close for another year. As always, I welcome your feedback. Did I miss something that you think should be on the list? Leave a comment and let me know. Happy New Year and best wishes for a successful 2014.