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RNA carries the day at Erie Hack competition seeking solutions to harmful algal blooms

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Project description:

Predicting the severity of harmful algae blooms before they happen, using new RNA technologies.

Harmful algae blooms threaten public health, wreak havoc on aquatic environments, threaten infrastructure, and cost communities in the western Erie basin millions of dollars in mitigation. Current technologies can predict where blooms will go and determine how severe they were after the fact, but they are not able to determine the severity and impact of the blooms, or even if they will have any impact, prior to these events. Enabling communities with the knowledge ahead of time will allow for early intervention, make mitigation more effective, decrease costs, prevent water outages, and decrease the risk to public health. RNA Power is a collaboration between environmentally focused biotechnology companies EQO and Veracet, with business leadership in the Cleveland area. The EQO platform for low-cost, high-volume collection, and preservation of RNA enables EQO and Veracet to determine the amount of toxin and to get a comprehensive view of the entire aquatic microbiome. With these technologies, combined with legacy data collection, and the financial support of the Erie Hack, the RNA Power team will launch a project in the spring of 2022 to gather the necessary information to build these capabilities for the benefit of the Western Erie Basin.

RNA Power team members:

John Higley, MSc. CEO of EQO Inc. and Principal Scientist, molecular biologist with early cancer detection expertise. Science advisor to the interagency working group on eDNA which includes representatives from multiple government and state agencies (USGS, US-BoR, USFWS, and DNRs).

Gary Andersen, PhD. Veracet CTO. Microbiology professor, UC Berkeley. 20+ years of microbiome experience.

Marité Ball, MIMPresident of Blue & Green Planet, Ltd - Business Development Executive based in NE Ohio. 20+ years of Business Management with Fortune 500 companies, SMEs and startups.

Erika Schwarz Taylor, PhD. EQO Co-founder and Senior Science Advisor, molecular ecology, and genomics expert. Developed probes used as the standard by NOAA for toxic algae detection.

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