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2014 Archived Content


Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s Inaugural

PCR for Molecular Medicine

Current Applications and Future Perspectives

February 10-12, 2014 | Moscone North Convention Center | San Francisco, CA


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a staple in diagnostic labs worldwide with applications ranging from cancer to infectious diseases. Today, advances in PCR have sparked innovation, expanded research capabilities, and made the technology more clinically useful than ever. Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Inaugural PCR for Molecular Medicine will showcase novel technology platforms such as digital PCR, as well as high-throughput platforms and improvements in automation and standardization. Case studies in cancer, infectious diseases, and prenatal diagnosis will be presented to illustrate how PCR is being used in patient diagnosis and monitoring. PCR for Molecular Medicine will provide a comprehensive look at PCR in both the research and clinical setting as well as insight into advanced techniques and tools for effective disease diagnosis.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Download Brochure 

Monday, February 10

10:30 am Conference Program Registration


11:50 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Carl Wittwer, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Pathology, University of Utah

12:00 pm SuperSelective Primers for the Detection of Rare Mutant DNA from Cancer Cells in Samples Containing Abundant Wild-Type DNA

Fred Russell Kramer, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Public Health Research Institute, Rutgers University

“SuperSelective” primers, by virtue of their unique design, enable only a few molecules of a mutant sequence to generate amplicons in conventional, real-time PCR assays without interference from extremely abundant wild-type molecules, even if the only difference between the mutant sequence and the wild-type sequence is a single-nucleotide polymorphism. As few as 10 mutant molecules can routinely be distinguished and quantitated in samples containing 1,000,000 wild-type molecules.

12:30 Digital PCR Goes COLD: Application of COLD-PCR in Digital Format Enables Quantitative and Multiplexed Mutation Scanning

G. Mike Makrigiorgos, Ph.D., Professor, Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber, Harvard Medical School

As currently applied, digital PCR can only be used to detect known mutations at single sequence positions. By merging COLD-PCR and digital-PCR technologies we enable digital mutation scanning, a new frontier for digital PCR. A single reaction can now interrogate numerous mutations, and replaces multiple individual digital PCR reactions.

1:00 Session Break

1:15 Luncheon Presentations (Sponsorship Opportunities Available) or Lunch on Your Own

2:15 Session Break


2:30 Chairperson’s Remarks

Adam R. Abate, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), University of California, San Francisco

2:35 Extreme PCR: Efficient and Specific Amplification in <1 Min by Selected Use of PCR Components

Carl Wittwer, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Pathology, University of Utah

Although 10 min PCR was first reported in 1990, further decreases in time to result usually sacrifice efficiency and yield. Extreme PCR combines <2 s cycles with high primer and polymerase concentrations. Cycle times of <1 s for PCR products under 100 bp in length provide specific, high yield amplification. Effects of the type of polymerase, monovalent cations, Mg++, Tm depressors, and noncovalent dyes on polymerase extension rates are also reported using a new polymerase activity assay.

3:05 TINA Primers for Real-Time TaqMan PCR

Uffe Vest Schneider, M.D., Ph.D., CSO, QuantiBact A/S

TINA modified primers improve flexibility in primer design, PCR multiplexing capacity and assay robustness in PCR assays. We here present data from a tetraplex TaqMan PCR assay targeting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, demonstrating significantly better assay efficacy and analytical sensitivity by TINA modified primers compared to unmodified DNA primers.

3:35 Virtual Barcoding Using LATE-PCR and Its Allied Technologies

Lawrence J. Wangh, Ph.D., Professor, Biology, Brandeis University

LATE-PCR and its allied technologies make it possible to accurately amplify multiple single-stranded products and then analyze these products at end-point in multiple colors over a wide range of temperatures. The Barcode of Life Project focuses on the COX1 gene of mitochondria to uniquely identify all animals on earth. We are developing Virtual Barcoding, a rapid, reliable closed-tube method for species identification anywhere on earth.

4:05 FEATURED POSTER PRESENTATION: Optical Control and Thermocycling Calibration of Laser-Heated Microdroplet PCR

Eric Hall, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Physics, SRI International

Aqueous droplets containing lysis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) reagents are deposited on top of single cells under a layer of oil. Following extraction of their genetic content, PCR and reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) may be performed on cells of interest in a rapid fashion via infrared-laser heating. Microdroplets may be deposited on a variety of substrates, requiring only a change in the lecithin content of the oil phase to produce droplets with the correct, spherical geometry. The thermocycling protocol employed in laser-heated PCR may be calibrated via melting of two hairpin oligos, each labeled with a matched reporter-quencher pair. The fluorescent labels on the hairpin oligos are spectrally distinct from those on the primer probes used in PCR, allowing for each droplet to be automatically calibrated during the initial heating ramp to the hot activation of polymerase, controlling for heating variations that may arise from changes in droplet shape and position.

4:35 Refreshment Break and Transition to Plenary Keynote

5:00 Plenary Keynote Session (Click Here For More Details) 

6:15 Grand Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

7:45 Close of Day

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Download Brochure