American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
May 2005 Mentor of the Month: Carl Wittwer
Carl T. Wittwer

Carl Wittwer is currently Professor of Pathology at the University of Utah Medical School and Director of Flow Cytometry and the Advanced Technology Group at Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP), Salt Lake City, UT. He received his PhD from Utah State University, his MD from the University of Michigan, trained further in pathology at the University of Utah, and is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology.

Dr. Wittwer has published more than 100 research articles and book chapters focusing on technique and instrument development in molecular diagnostics. In the early 1990s he developed rapid-cycle PCR techniques for DNA amplification in 10-15 min. In the mid-1990s, he adapted flow cytometry optics to thermal cycling for real-time monitoring of PCR. He introduced SYBR Green I, hybridization probes, and melting analysis to real-time PCR. These techniques are used worldwide in real-time PCR instruments today. His research has been supported by the NIH, the Whitaker Foundation for Biomedical Engineering, private industry, and the State of Utah. Since 2003, he has directed the State of Utah Center of Excellence on “Homogeneous DNA Analysis”. The Center focuses on simplifying DNA analysis so that mutation scanning and genotyping can occur without separation steps, electrophoresis, or expensive covalently-labeled oligonucleotide probes. The method used, “high-resolution melting analysis” is closed-tube, allowing PCR and complete genetic analysis in less than 30 minutes without any processing steps.

In 1990, Dr. Wittwer co-founded the company, Idaho Technology, to commercialize technology developed in his University laboratory. He is the primary inventor of the LightCycler® system, with 5,000 units placed worldwide by Roche. A portable version of the LightCycler, the R.A.P.I.D.® has recently been selected as the real-time PCR platform for military defense against biologic weapons by the US government. Dr. Wittwer holds 15 US patents and their foreign equivalents. He is the Chief Science Officer/Vice President for Research of Idaho Technology, a 110-person company located in the University of Utah Research Park. He received small business innovation awards in 1999, 2002 and 2004 was given the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology in 2003 and the AACC award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research in 2004.

Dr. Wittwer serves as a consultant for the NIH and several commercial companies. He has been on the Clinical Chemistry Board of Editors since 2000 and an Associate Editor since 2002. He is the editor of the Book Series, “Rapid Cycle Real-Time PCR” published by Springer-Verlag.