WCU to expand DNA sequencing capabilities

Western Carolina University’s Forensic Science Program has acquired two state-of-the-art pieces of DNA sequencing instruments to help it establish a DNA sequencing core facility on campus.

“We will be able to offer a multitude of DNA sequencing services to institutions across the state and enhance research and educational opportunities for students, particularly in areas such as forensic genetics, cellular and molecular biology, environmental health sciences and biochemistry,” said Brittania Bintz, a forensic research scientist at WCU.

The new equipment enables WCU to increase the number of samples that can be processed and supports research collaborations for faculty members across forensic science, biology, and health and human sciences disciplines and researchers at Highlands Biological Station. Currently, students and faculty use the laboratory to not only gain hands-on experience with sample preparation, genotyping, sequencing and analysis but also research the newest sequencing instruments to develop methods that may be employed in crime laboratories in the future.

A $175,000 grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center allowed WCU to purchase a fourth DNA sequencing instrument. Then, a new research collaboration with Illumina Inc., a manufacturer of next-generation DNA sequencing instrumentation, helped WCU to acquire a fifth sequencer, an Illumina MiSeq, for evaluation and use.

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