Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
Kathryn Geiger-Schuller, Olena Kuksenko, and Oana Ursu
The advent of next-generation DNA sequencing technology has allowed for cheap, rapid sequencing of human genomes. Unfortunately, performing optical screens during sequencing—in other words, using light to correlate genetic information with phenotypic information and cell morphology—can often be painfully slow. To sequence DNA, each one of the four DNA nucleotides (A, T, C, and G) is labeled with a dye molecule of a different color. Imaging cells during the sequencing of a single DNA nucleotide can take upwards of 1 hour—and a single gene often contains hundreds or thousands of base pairs. Anaka helped develop a method to speed up DNA sequencing during optical screening using a two-color chemistry, where the four DNA nucleotides could be labeled using only two unique dye molecules. She successfully showed that sufficient quality images could be obtained using one color for A, a different color for T, both colors for C, and no colors for G. This advancement has effectively cut the time to perform optical screens in half.