Since the beginning of the Mammalian Genotyping Service (MGS) at Marshfield, Dr. James Weber recognized that developing hardware and software in-house would yield the best results. Dr. Weber started early in developing custom hardware and software to provide the highest quality results with the maximum output and lowest cost. Over the years efforts have been made to incrementally improve both the technology and process. Dr. Seth Dobrin, as the current director, has continued this development process.
The first equipment developed at Marshfield was the SCAnning FlUorescence Detector (SCAFUD). The unit allowed DNA fragments to be electrophoretically separated and detected using fluorescence instead of the standard radioactive tagged films. Because gels are labor intensive, maximizing the amount of information on each run has been critical. The SCAFUD allowed a greater efficiency and higher throughput than conventional methods and equipment. To improve genotyping, software was developed to automatically process the SCAFUD output and assign allele sizes. By developing hardware and software, along with other improvements, the MGS lab has been able to continue to increase output, decrease expenses, and not compromise quality. The most recent additions to instrumentation are the introduction of array tape technology and autoloading of samples on the SCAFUDs. The most recent software improvements are helping to extend the analysis of genetic data and improve the calling accuracy of data.