IDEAs Award Winners Could Change DNA Research

October 5, 2020

Andrej Podlutsky is one of the innovators who developed the Vertical Comet Assay. UAF photo by JR Ancheta.
Andrej Podlutsky is one of the innovators who developed the Vertical Comet Assay. UAF photo by JR Ancheta.

The Innovative Disclosures and Entrepreneurial Activities awards, hosted by the UAF Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, recognize innovative solutions from submitted invention disclosures from UAF and the University of Alaska Southeast for the academic year.

This year’s UAF top IDEAs Award went to Andrej Podlutsky and Robert Williams of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife for their Vertical Comet: A novel electrophoresis assay design.

Comet assays are a gel electrophoresis–based method that can be used to measure DNA damage in individual eukaryotic cells. Whereas the traditional comet assay is effectively two-dimensional, pulling DNA with electrostatic force along the face of a matrix layer (e.g., an agar gel layer), which can subsequently be imaged for analysis, the vertical comet assay runs an electric field through the two-dimensional plane of the matrix layer, pulling damaged DNA out of the agar gel layer and into a fluid buffer, which can be quantified, analyzed, or otherwise processed. This process can eliminate any interlaboratory variation, a pervasive issue with the traditional method.

Comet assays require analysis of images which leads to subjective variability from laboratory to laboratory and from user to user, but the vertical comet allows for more objective, quick and consistent analysis of nucleic acid damage after electrophoresis.

Podlutsky and Williams’ innovation has been submitted as a U.S. Provisional Patent Application. The research was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The IDEAs award winners were announced during a virtual UAF Honors College innovation and entrepreneurship event on Sept. 16. All IDEAs winners were recognized for their disclosed innovative approaches to research, teaching and service. The winners highlighted the diversity of disclosed innovations during the past academic year, 2019 – 2020.

This year’s winners are:

  • Top OverallCommercialization Award – Andrej Podlutsky and Robert Williams: Vertical Comet: A Novel Electrophoresis Assay Design.
  • Top UAFNanook Award – Orion Lawlor and Dayne Broderson: Personal Protective Equipment Mask: Emission Testing Methodology.
  • Top UASSpike Award – None this year.
  • Top FacultyInspiration Award – Wendy Croskrey, William Howard, Dan LaSota, and Christen Bouffard: Spruce Sap Extrusion Wax.
  • Top StaffCreative Award – Michelle Wilber, Edward Toal, Alan Mitchell, Dayne Broderson, Ben Loeffler, Erin Whitney and Chris Pike: ORCA – Onsite Realtime Collection and Acquisition.
  • Top Young InnovatorTomorrow’s Innovator Award – Jonathan Kamler: Laminar Liquid Microjet Spectroscopy Cavity.

 Next year’s competition is already underway, so enter here.