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Get to know Carl T. Wittwer

Carl Wittwer is a Professor of Pathology at the University of Utah Medical School.  He received a Ph.D. from Utah State University, a M.D. from the University of Michigan,  and completed residency training in pathology at the University of Utah.  Dr. Wittwer has published more than 180 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, fluorescent hybridization probes, and melting analysis to real-time PCR, techniques that are widely used in real-time instruments today.  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.       


TechVentures : Video Profile of Dr Carl Wittwer and Innovation at the University of Utah, 2012.

Inspiring Minds : Essay by Misia Landau about Carl Wittwer: Clinical Chemistry, 55: 1744-1746, 2009.

"Taking It to the Extreme: PCR at Wittwerspeed", Clinical Chemistry 2015. Editorial.


Compromised Melting | PCR Feature in Biotechniques, March, 2012:

BioSpectrum Asia, February, 2009:

Current News

Carl (center) recently accepted the 2015 Utah Genius Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in molecular diagnostics.

Biographical Sketch Continued...

      Dr. Wittwer is a technical vice president and medical director of the Immunologic Flow Cytometry and the Advanced Technology laboratories at Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP), Salt Lake City, UT.  He is board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology by the American Board of Pathology."
      In 1990, Dr. Wittwer co-founded BioFire (formerly Idaho Technology), a company that has now grown to over 250 people and is located in the University of Utah Research Park. He is the Chief Science Officer of BioFire (formerly Idaho Technology) and primary inventor of the LightCycler® system, with over 8,000 units placed worldwide by Roche. In 2003, a portable version of the LightCycler, the R.A.P.I.D.® was selected as the real-time PCR platform for military defense against biologic weapons by the US government.  Dr. Wittwer holds 26 US patents and their foreign equivalents.  He received small business innovation awards in 1999 and 2002, the State of Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology in 2003 and the IQLM Technical Advancement Award in 2005.  Since 2003, he has directed the State of Utah Center of Excellence on “Homogeneous DNA Analysis”.   The Center focuses on high-resolution DNA melting of PCR products, developing methods for genotyping (unlabeled probes, snapback primers, amplicon melting), mutation scanning, and sequence identity. 

Curriculum Vitae


The Pathologist Power List 2015 listed in The Pathologist 13;29:2015. “Described as, ‘a pioneer in nucleic acid analysis,’ Carl invented a number of key polymerase chain reaction technologies that are now used worldwide. He is a professor of pathology at the University of Utah Medical School, technical vice president and medical director of the Immunologic Flow Cytometry and Advanced Technology laboratories at Associated Regional and University Pathologists, a co-founder at BioFire, and a recent winner of the Utah Genius Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to molecular diagnostics." See more of the Pathology Power List Here...

Kary B. Mullis, in the preface to, The Polymerase Chain Reaction, Springer Science and Business, 1994, page xi:  “Few, strictly methodological people are working with DNA.  A refreshing exception is Carl Wittwer, from, strangely enough, the Pathology Department at Utah Medical School.  I would have thought, Chemical Engineering at Cal Tech, but I knew otherwise.  If I were you, I would read his paper, or have someone more technically competent explain it.  Carl has thought about PCR in a way that very few others have, and his thoughts are crisp and practical.  I have always known that a good physiochemical description of PCR would be very useful, but deriving one was over my head.  Others have tried but not succeeded…””

W. Edward Highsmith, Jr, in an editorial for Clinical Chemistry, 2004;50:1296-1298:  “Dr. Wittwer and his colleagues have pioneered rapid, affordable mutation-detection technology and have moved these developments out of the engineering laboratory and into the clinical laboratory. Looking to the future, I can hardly wait to see what the Wizard of Salt Lake will come up with next.”

Stephen A. Bustin, in the preface to, The PCR Revolution; Basic Technologies and Applications, Cambridge University Press, 2010, page xiv:  “Contributors include giants of the PCR field:  Carl Wittwer, the ‘father’ of qPCR instrumentation as well the pacesetter behind numerous practical qPCR innovations…”

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