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DNA Everywhere Success in Haiti

Gabby Pecora (left) and Dr. Gary Andersen (right) at the SOIL composting facility in Port au Prince

With support from the 11th Hour Project, DNA Everywhere’s Gabby Pecora and Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s, Dr. Gary Andersen traveled to Port au Prince, Haiti in October to implement the first stage of the DNA Everywhere project. After training six members of the SOIL organization to extract DNA from SOIL compost, Pecora analyzed the samples at LBNL for contamination and DNA yield, finding the samples sufficient for PhyloChip analysis.

“This gives us the ability to try new designs and see if we can further optimize the composting process,” says Dr. Sasha Kramer, co-founder and Executive Director of SOIL on the DNA Everywhere technology. “Cholera is on everyone’s mind here, and anything that we can do to reduce this risk will save lives.”

In addition to training SOIL staff on the DNA Everywhere extraction protocol, Andersen and Pecora were toured through many of SOIL’s sites in both Port au Prince and Cap Haitien, including communities with public toilets, private family toilets, compost sites, agricultural farms and compost research sites. “SOIL efforts are really astounding, they have such a presence in so many areas of Haiti, everyone knows who they are.” says Pecora after traveling to Cap Haitien. “We went down there to implement the DNA Everywhere project, but we learned so much about their composting operation in the process that is invaluable to our Thermopile Project” Pecora states. In fact, as a result of this trip, the SOIL organization has agreed to discuss implementing a Thermopile test cell in Haiti to provide further analysis for both the Thermopile Project and SOIL.

DNA Everywhere is currently in the process of running samples from Haiti and planning a twelve-month analysis schedule where SOIL will ship DNA samples to LBNL for routine PhyloChip analysis. DNA Everywhere is also hoping to expand DNA extraction capabilities to the Cap Haitien operation as well as part of the Project’s next stages.