Catherine Grgicak Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Dr. Grgicak received her doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Ottawa and is an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program at Boston University School of Medicine. She is interested in designing and carrying out research relevant to forensic DNA testing, electrochemical applications to forensics and solid state characterization. Dr. Grgicak participates in the instruction of BMFS students by supervising research projects and teaching the DNA laboratory, Advanced DNA and Bio-DNA practicum courses. Prior to her doctoral work, Dr. Grgicak received her M.S.F.S. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham while working at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. Her Masters research focused on elucidating the nature of primer binding site mutations in forensically relevant markers. She continued her forensic casework and research at the Cellmark Diagnostics Laboratory in Germantown MD.
Click here to see selected M.S. theses and Tools written/developed by our group.
Forensic DNA and Bio-Analytical Chemistry
Our research interests include designing and conducting studies relevant to forensic DNA testing. Current research focuses on developing methods for complex DNA mixture interpretation. Specifically, in collaboration with faculty and students from MIT and Rutgers University, we are developing methods to determine the number of contributors to a complex DNA mixture sample. We also are interested in elucidating an approach to determine the usefulness of a complex DNA mixture using procedures typically used in digital communication. Elucidating optimal Analytical Thresholds for DNA analysis that maximizes information gain while minimizing the false labeling of noise is also of interest. Other projects focus on optimizing differential extraction procedures, where sperm cell ‘pre-lysis’ is negated during the initial stages of extraction, and improving overall DNA recovery during extraction. We also study effective and accurate quantification of human DNA by using real-time PCR and focus on determining an analytical scheme that will allow for direct comparison between various quantification methods.
Electrochemistry and Solid State Characterization
Our laboratory focuses on applying and developing electrochemical techniques for forensic science purposes. One such project concentrates on the development of an electrochemical biosensor for reliable and fast quantification of degraded and non-degraded DNA. Determining the time since deposition of metal objects such as firearms, knives, etc. at crime scenes via electrochemical techniques and the solid-state characterization of corrosion products is also of interest and developing methods to determine the time since deposition using these techniques is currently being conducted in our electrochemistry laboratory.
Current Students and Their Research Projects
Michael Cicero. Evaluation of Error and Reproducibility of the Calibration Curve Utilized During Absolute DNA Quantification.
Lena Gunn. Optimization of the M-Vac® Vacuum Collection System for the Collection and Preservation of Biological Material.
Adam Witas. ROC and DETC Analysis: Determination of the Stochastic Threshold for Forensic DNA Analysis of Complex Low-level Mixtures.
Candace Churinsky. Carbon Based DNA Electrochemical Biosensors for Forensic DNA Analysis Purposes.
Joey Iacona. Re-amplification of exhaustive DNA samples.
Amanda Garrett. Optimization of Biological Evidence Collection: A Systems Approach.
Kevin Hu. Examining State-of-the-Art Interpretation Tools for Complex, Low-Level DNA Samples.
Kayleigh Rowan. Reproducibility and Validation in Forensic DNA Analysis: Impacts on Complex DNA Interpretations.
Genevieve Wellner. Impact of DNA Levels on Noise and Impacts on DNA Mixture Interpretation.
Sarah Norsworthy. Sensitivity of PCR and Effects on Determining the Number of Contributors.
Chelsea Krause. Recursive Amplification versus Consensus Profiling: A Comparative Analysis.
(BMFS Students are Highlighted)
C. Simson Oechsle, S. Haddad, J.B. Sgueglia and C.M. Grgicak. Screening Biological Stains with qPCR versus Lateral Flow Immunochromatographic Test Strips: A Quantitative Comparison using Analytical Figures of Merit. Journal of Forensic Sciences, In press.
C.M. Hennekens, E.S. Cooper, R.W. Cotton and C.M. Grgicak. The Effects of Differential Extraction Conditions on the Premature Lysis of Spermatozoa. Journal of Forensic Sciences, In press.
J. Bregu, D. Conklin, E. Coronado, M. Terrill, R.W. Cotton and C.M. Grgicak. Analytical Thresholds and Sensitivity: Establishing RFU Thresholds for Forensic DNA Analysis. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 58, 120-129 (2013).
C.A. Rakay, J. Bregu and C.M. Grgicak. Maximizing Allele Detection: Effects of Analytical Threshold and DNA Levels on Rates of Allele and Locus Drop-out. Forensic Science International: Genetics, Vol. 6, Issue 6, 723-728 (2012).
C.M. Grgicak, Z.M. Urban, R.W. Cotton. Investigation of Reproducibility and Error Associated with qPCR Methods using Quantifiler® Duo DNA Quantification Kit. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 55, 1331-1339 (2010).
C.M. Grgicak, M.M. Palulska, J.S. O’Brien and J.B. Giorgi. Synergistic effects of Ni1−xCox-YSZ and Ni1−xCux-YSZ alloyed cermet SOFC anodes for oxidation of hydrogen and methane fuels containing H2S. Journal of Power Sources, 183, 26-33 (2008).
C.M. Grgicak, R.G. Green and J.B. Giorgi. SOFC Anodes for Direct Oxidation of Hydrogen and Methane Fuels Containing H2S. Journal of Power Sources, 179, 317-328 (2008).
C.M. Grgicak, J.G. Giorgi. Improved Performance of Ni- and Co-YSZ Anodes via Sulfidation to NiS- and CoS-YSZ. Effects of Temperature on Electrokinetic Parameters. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 111, 15446-15455 (2007).
C.M. Grgicak, S. Rogers and C. Mauterer. Discovery and Identification of new D13S317 Primer Binding Site Mutations. Forensic Science International, 157, 36-39 (2006).