Located in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Shannon Drive facility, JHBR Genetics laboratory opened in the fall of 2009 as an expansion of the sample-processing and storage services. JHBR provides high-quality and high-throughput DNA and RNA isolation services for biological specimens, processing an average of 8,000 specimens a year for various research studies. Most of the specimens being processed are WBC pellets, saliva and buccal swabs, however DNA and RNA can be isolated from buffy coat, whole blood, tissue and Guthrie cards. Following isolation, the specimens are stored in the repository or returned to the investigator for downstream analysis.
The QIAsymphony, by Qiagen, is the latest in automated technology for the isolation of genetic material and is ideal for trace amounts of DNA/RNA as used in the field of forensics. This robotic platform was designed to optimize sample throughput with a 96-sample capacity (4.5 hr run time), as well as sample integrity by incorporating silica or Ni-NTA-based purification beads. This instrument can extract DNA/RNA from any source and provide extracted material in either plate or tube format in 50, 100, 200 or 400µl amounts.
Following DNA/RNA isolation, specimens are analyzed using a NanoDrop 2000 to determine the quality (260/280 ratio) and quantity of nucleic acid in the sample. The NanoDrop 2000 is an easy-to-use spectrophotometer that allows for quick (~5s) measurements of specimens and only requires 0.5-2µL of sample.
Liquid Handling: Many studies require specimens at specific volumes and concentration for downstream analysis. In order to provide the complete service from sample intake and tracking to DNA/RNA isolation and preparation for analysis, the QIAgility liquid handler, also by Qiagen, is in place. This automated robot utilizes liquid-sensing technology to minimize sample waste, while allowing the sample to be normalized for storage or analysis.
Sample Concentration: Due to the nature of nucleic acid isolation, there is often a need to concentrate specimens in order to reach the necessary level for analysis. Methods such as alcohol precipitation can often result in sample loss and degradation. To achieve a quality concentration, the Eppendorf Concentrator Plus ultra-centrifuge is used. This system combines centrifugation, temperature control and low pressure to create a sample-safe environment for rapid evaporation.
All of the instrumentation utilized by JHBR Genetics is linked for simple data integration and transfer. By combining this integration with the FreezerWorks (FW) data management system, specimens can be tracked through the genetic isolation process from start to finish.