Multiplexed Primers and Pools ddPCR [MP4] Saliva Screening Lab

The seeds of the large-scale saliva screening and COVID surveillance for CSU were sown out of necessity as the uncertainty of a global pandemic threatened to shut down in-person learning and research for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. In a matter of weeks, we developed, optimized and deployed a high-throughput, saliva-based MultiPlex Paired-Pool ddPCR (MP4) test for SARS-CoV-2 for the students, staff, and faculty of Colorado State University beginning in October of 2020. Our unique pooling strategy and testing algorithm allowed us to process and test 3,000- 5,000 saliva samples and provide results from individual saliva samples within these pools in less than a day for most samples.

Through the end of the 2021 spring semester, we performed over 150,000 MP4 screening tests. Working with the wastewater testing team, the MP4 team identified asymptomatic carriers of SARS-CoV-2 likely before they began transmitting virus to others. CSU’s Pandemic Preparedness Team quarantined individuals who tested positive by a second, FDA-authorized test required after MP4 screening. This teamwork allowed CSU to remain open for on-campus living, learning, and working during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Learn more about how pooled spit-testing works: USA Today – The best COVID-19 warning system? Poop and pooled spit, says one Colorado university.

Lab Directors

Phil Fox, Ph.D.
Kaitlyn Wagner, Ph.D.
Liddy Gordon

Lab Manager

Westen Hahn

Research Assistants

Luke Davis
Avery Lessard
Kaylee Gedack
Caitlin Musselman
Kristin Rugh
Halie Stockett


Izzie Basey
Lauren Brown
Kaela Fahrney
Brandon Goral
Nathan Schacher
Melina Takvorian
Grace Tierney

Research Associates

Hannah Bohn
Dylan Buglewicz
Jorge Chavez Velasquez
Rosaline Danzman
Gabriele Galindo
Jake Miller-Dawson
McKenzie Olsen
Hailey Sanders
Platon Selemenakis
Alissa Threatt
Margaret Williams
Alexis Winter