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NCCOS Research Transitions GrouperChek to Commercialization

Published on: 01/21/2016
Region(s) of Study: U.S. States and Territories / Florida
Primary Contact(s): quay.dortch@noaa.gov

Is this really grouper that I am eating? In order to answer this question, NCCOS sponsored scientists at the University of South Florida (USF) developed and patented a quick identification device for commercially important grouper species. A technological offshoot from a portable red tide detection sensor,the apparatus checks for mislabeled ‘grouper’ fish sold at restaurants and seafood markets.

NCCOS sponsored scientist Dr. John Paul (center) received a University of South Florida (USF) Excellence in Innovation Award for exceptional achievement in innovation and research at the 7th annual meeting and luncheon of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, held August 31, 2015 at the Galleria in the USF Research Park on the university's Tampa campus. The award was presented by USF President Judy Genshaft (left) and Dr. Paul R. Sanberg (right), senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development and president of the National Academy of Inventors. Credit Christine Gitch (text) and Aimee Blodgett (photo), USF Research News

Dr. John Paul (center) received a USF Excellence in Innovation Award at the 7th annual meeting of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors for his work on GrouperChek. The award was presented by USF President Judy Genshaft (left) and Dr. Paul R. Sanberg (right). Photo Credit: Aimee Blodgett, USF Research News

The device, called ‘ GrouperChek,’ attaches to a laptop and is likened to a “tricorder,’ the fictionalStar Treklife forms detector. GrouperChek uses molecular genetic technology called Nucleic Acid Sequence-Based Amplification (NASBA) that measures and fluorescently highlights specific RNA nucleic acids that signal the presence and abundance of the targeted organism gene, which is species specific. The work is based on NCCOS ECOHAB red tide identification research initiated in 2001.

The project lead scientist, John H. Paul, is a Distinguished University Professor of biological oceanography at USF. In 2014 he launched a new company, PureMolecular LLC , to produce his patented portable tricorder device. His business group uses their experience in measuring messenger RNA as a surrogate for microbial gene expression in the design of hand-held and autonomous sensors for the detection of noxious microorganisms in coastal environments.

Dr. Paul’s collaborative work has led to a new publication, a successful proposal to the USF Seed Capital Accelerator Program that received funding from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council in 2014, and a successful proposal to NCCOS PCMHAB Program (2015) to use his patent to detect the onset of red tides.

For more information, contact Quay.Dortch@noaa.gov.

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