Innovation Blog

The "MassChallenge Bump"


At Amplyus we are focused on giving everyone access to DNA technology. Our miniPCR product enables everyone to do DNA experiments, especially high school and college students who use miniPCR to learn concepts that are essential in an increasingly DNA-centric society. Because we are all about increasing access, we are thrilled by the boost in access and exposure that MassChallenge is giving us.

Shortly after being selected as MassChallenge finalists, we got invited to introduce miniPCR to educators in the San Francisco Bay Area. The miniPCR team is just back from an inspiring week of science education generously sponsored by BABEC, the Bay Area Biotechnology Education Consortium. BABEC is a regional network of local science education organizations based in the Northern California Bay Area. BABEC serves close to 400 teachers in over 200 schools, with more than 45,000 student interactions.

Our first stop was the 2014 Bio-Link Summer Fellows Forum, which took place at the UC Berkeley Clark Kerr Campus. Bio-Link enhances biotechnology education programs and this years National Fellows meeting agenda included technology-based seminars as well as hands-on biotechnology sessions to help boost biotech education. Together with BABEC we ran the miniPCR Food Safety workshop to help illustrate uses for biotechnology in public health and in the food industry, through DNA amplification and molecular genetic analysis of food-borne pathogens. Biotech instructors who joined the session can now bring the experimental protocols back to their Colleges.

We also introduced PCR and its use in Food Safety to a group of High School science teachers who joined BABEC for a hands-on biotech workshop at Skyline College. Teachers worked through a morning of molecular biology experiments including DNA amplification by PCR, restriction digest analysis, and gel electrophoresis to help trace the origin of contaminated ground beef samples tainting the food supply chain with (simulated) E.coli O157:H7. Teachers were engaged, experimentally successful (see pictures below), and many commented on the usefulness of introducing their students to real-world biotechnology applications.

This was a phenomenal trip for the Amplyus team which allowed us to interact and exchange perspectives with tons of educators not just in the San Francisco Area but also nationally. We got to appreciate firsthand the fit of our miniPCR product with its target users, and to get direct user feedback in a germane scenario. No doubt many of our fellow MassChallenge finalists will also see new opportunities open up for user interaction and product feedback we encourage you to take advantage of them!

We have much to be grateful for and a long list of people to thank, especially BABECs president Johanna Anton, Dr. Elaine Johnson from Bio-Link, and Prof. Nick Kapp and Dean Ray Hernandez from Skyline College. Huge thanks and kudos to the educators who joined the miniPCR workshops and shared their experiences and feedback. We are also grateful to our education outreach partners MassBioEd and New England Biolabs. And a huge thanks to MassChallenge for accelerating us!



Thank you Bay Area teachers!



Beautiful biotech lab at Skyline College


Visualizing PCR results




Bringing results home


Yes, miniPCR is portable


Classroom turned lab


Projection of Food Safety biotech lab at Bio-Link




miniPCR loaded with DNA samples


Watching DNA amplification traces


Bio-Link Fellows loading gels @miniPCR Workshop


Beautiful bands


Textbook quality results!

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