Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $350,452)
The Forensic Biology Unit (FBU) anticipates an increased demand of its casework services due to its improved turnaround times and customer service and a realized increase in its population. The FBU services the County of Alameda, not including the city of Oakland; this area represents a population of approximately 1,246,000. The FBU as well as its customers will benefit from the proposed project as the FBU continues to 1) modernize the laboratory; 2) monitor for efficiency improvements; and 3) increase capacity.
The overarching goal of this submission is to increase capacity, ensure continuous monitoring for efficiency improvements, and provide laboratory support to casework with a dedicated validation and quality control (QC) scientist. The primary activities, products, and deliverables of this proposal are: updating software; making reagents and consumable supplies available for casework; purchasing maintenance agreements; and maintaining support for an unfunded Validation/QC Scientist to conduct validation studies and implement into casework procedures and to conduct QC testing.
Three attainable goals are:
Goal 1: Upgrade and validate QIAgility systems with Windows 10 compatible instrumentation software. The FBU urgently needs to upgrade the computers, operating systems, and instrumentation software to be Windows 10 compliant for two QIAgility robotic systems used for downstream processing of DNA extracts. Alameda County IT Services is mandating that all computing systems upgrade to Windows 10 which is more secure and allows for updates supported by the Alameda County IT Services. Further, new computers and operating systems will ensure operational stability.
Goal 2: Provide reagents and supplies for casework, and maintain software and equipment that will eliminate user-intervention steps by the analysts. Critical reagents and supplies for casework and maintenance of STRmix, the VERSA 1100 platform, and the temperature monitoring system will ensure maximum casework efficiency and capacity to reduce turnaround time.
Goal 3: Obtain funding for a dedicated Validation/QC Scientist focused on validation studies, casework procedures, quality control testing, and ongoing laboratory support for the FBU. Dedicated personnel focused on conducting validation studies, implementing newly validated procedures, and performing QC tests fosters timely completion and adoption of procedures to improve sample processing efficiency and capacity.
Achievement of these goals will provide up-to-date computers/software, casework reagents/supplies, and maintenance agreements to reduce downtime. This approach will increase uptime and ensure many benefits for the FBU. The increased capacity and workflow efficiency will have a long-term sustaining effect on decreased turnaround times for sample processing, data analysis, and case reporting.