Extreme Molecular Diagnostics


Extreme molecular diagnostics takes only seconds. With very short turn-around times, pre-analytical and post-analytical challenges are minimized, point-of-care testing makes sense, and high-throughput is not necessary. Extreme PCR in <15 seconds, high speed melting analysis in 4 seconds, and rapid sample preparation enable sample-to-answer diagnostics in <1 minute.

Originally presented on October 22, 2019, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lecture Presenter

Carl T. Wittwer, MD, PhD

Carl T. Wittwer, MD, PhD

Professor of Pathology
University of Utah School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor of BioMedical Engineering
University of Utah
Medical Director, Immunologic Flow Cytometry
ARUP Laboratories

Dr. Carl T. Wittwer, MD, PhD is a professor of pathology and adjunct professor of BioMedical Engineering at the University of Utah. He has published over 200 research articles and book chapters focusing on technique and instrument development in molecular diagnostics. In the early 1990s he developed rapid-cycle polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for DNA amplification in 10-15 minutes. In the mid 1990s he adapted flow cytometry optics to thermal cycling for real-time monitoring of PCR. As the primary inventor of the LightCycler® system, he introduced SYBR Green I, adjacent hybridization probes, and melting analysis to real-time PCR. In the 2000s, he developed high resolution melting analysis (HRM), introducing variant scanning, small amplicon genotyping, unlabeled probes and snapback primers. In the 2010s, he developed extreme PCR in <30 seconds and high speed melting in 4 seconds, opening up new possibilities for "while-you-wait" nucleic acid diagnostics. He holds over 40 US patents and their foreign equivalents.

Carl started molecular diagnostics at ARUP laboratories in 1994 and has served as a technical vice president, a director of the Advanced Technology Group and a medical director of Flow Cytometry at ARUP. He has been on the Clinical Chemistry board of editors since 2000, an Associate Editor since 2004, and is currently a senior editor of the Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics.

Dr. Wittwer co-founded BioFire Diagnostics, Inc. in 1990, a company that has grown to over 2,000 people today. He was Board Chairman from 2012 until its acquisition by bioMerieux in 2014. Business recognition includes small business innovation awards in 1999 and 2002, the State of Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology in 2003, and Utah "Pioneer" and "Genius" awards in 2015.


After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe necessary conditions to increase the speed of PCR
  • Discuss simplicity over complexity in developing molecular techniques
  • Recognize that faster PCR and faster melting can result in better PCR and better melting

Sponsored by:

University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, and ARUP Laboratories