Monthly Archives: May 2016

When DNA Implicates the Innocent

cold case evidenceScientific American- Since 1997, when researchers first showed that it was possible to gather genetic information about a person based on skin cells they had left on an object, this type of trace evidence, also known as touch DNA, has been increasingly collected from surfaces such as door and gun handles. (In some jurisdictions, such as Harris County, Texas, the number of touch DNA cases submitted for laboratory analysis increased more than threefold between 2009 and 2013, often as a means of identifying possible perpetrators for burglaries and thefts.) Commercial companies now sell kits to law-enforcement agencies that can generate a full genetic profile of an individual from as few as three to five cells. Independent labs and scientists working on such projects as identifying long-deceased individuals also employ the kits.

‘Wayfinder’ escorts fallen pilot to final resting place

Fallen soldierSCHOFIELD BARRACKS — After 71 years of being missing in action, U.S. Army Air Forces pilot 1st Lt. William O. Pile was laid to rest with full military honors with help from 25th Infantry Division.

Sexual assault kits: Is there a backlog in Idaho?

sexual assault kit 2MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) — — “There are definitely cases right now that are backlogged at the state lab,” said Matthew Gamette, Idaho State forensic lab director said.
The lab director inside the Idaho Forensics lab says the goal is to complete DNA kits within 30 days.

CHI Announces the Inaugural DNA Forensics Conference, August 23-24, 2016, Washington, DC

Helix and MagnifierNEEDHAM, MA–(Marketwired – May 19, 2016) – Cambridge Healthtech Institute (CHI) announces its inaugural DNA Forensics conference will take place on August 23-24, 2016 at the Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, DC-as part of the Next Generation Dx Summit. This conference will examine new technologies, changing policies, and trends in forensic DNA investigations for industry and government agencies.

M-Vac DNA Collection Highlighted on NBC’s Dateline

M-VacM-Vac Systems wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection system was highlighted on Friday as part of NBC’s Dateline episode “The Girl with the Red Shoe”. The episode, which first aired on May 6th, covered the Annie Kasprzak murder, which occurred March 10, 2012 along the scenic Jordan River in Draper, Utah. The case, which took over two years to fully investigate, finally concluded with Darwin “Chris” Bagshaw pleading guilty on February 29, 2016.

The Saga of My Rape Kit

sexual assault kit imageCambridge, England — MY rape kit was created on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 12, 1992, at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. Tiny pieces of evidence were swabbed, plucked and combed from me: bits of me and, they hoped, bits of him, to be used in court one day to prove who had done this to me. Like many evidence kits collected at that time, it was not analyzed for DNA, and became part of what is called the backlog: untested rape kits across the country, which number at minimum in the tens of thousands.

Humans are still evolving: Huge DNA study tracks how the British have changed since the Romans were in charge

DNA RomeWhile we may not be sprouting wings, gills or an extra pair of legs any time soon, a new study has shown that human evolution is continuing to grind away.
New genetic analysis has revealed the traces of human evolution in action, showing how the British population has subtly changed since Roman rule, 2,000 years ago.

NIST forensic scientist helps Vietnamese counterparts identify wartime remains

DNA seqIn a Hanoi, Vietnam, hotel conference room, Mike Coble led a group of scientists through a series of calculations. Coble’s presentation was heavy on the statistics, and this created a lot of work for the translators. It took two of them, working tag-team, to keep up.

Database launched to gather, study DNA from Midwestern twins

twin dnaResearchers who study how genes and the environment influence people’s health are hoping that twins who live in the Midwest will contribute DNA to a new database that might provide insight about traits and diseases specific to the region

Tooth Plaque May Hold Clues About Ancient Life

ancient teethA nuisance to dentists is now a boon for archaeologists. Researchers have successfully sequenced DNA from fossilized plaque on 700-year-old teeth.
Solidified plaque—called calculus, tartar, or that chalky stuff the dentist scrapes off—contains a whopping 25 times more DNA than ancient tooth or bone. And, in a paper published Wednesday in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Christina Warinner and colleagues detail how they‘ve used plaque in research, a process that could catch on as a way to gather otherwise unobtainable information about the ancient world.

DNA of mummified body entered into database

AltonMummyALTON — A national database has the DNA test results of a mummified, Hispanic/Latino man’s body found nearly two years ago in Alton, which authorities hope will lead to determining his identity.

DNA data bank planned to thwart terrorists

Helix and MagnifierABUJA, (CAJ News) – AMID the devastating impact of the Boko Haram terror, Nigeria plans to establish a Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) data-bank to thwart the terrorists as well as reunite children and parents separated by the crisis.
Out of the 2 million internally displaced persons in Nigeria, 6 000 are children, aged below five years, who have been separated from their parents.

Forgotten woman who gave us our first clear look at DNA

Rosalind Franklin1Darwin and natural selection, Pavlov and conditioning, Watson and Crick and DNA — no matter how little we know about science, there are certain names that popular culture associates with scientific progress.
But how often is this an overly simplistic view of discovery? Dig a bit deeper and the history of science becomes riddled with unsung heroes.

The Efforts to Identify the Lost Souls of America’s Potter’s Fields

Potters Field 1From New York’s Hart Island to Dunn County, Wisconsin, experts and volunteers alike work to provide closure to the families of those interred in unmarked graves.

Applying Lean Design to Crime Laboratories

Justice DeptIn an effort to incorporate Lean Design thinking into the planning, construction, and relocation of forensic facilities, the National Institute of Justice’s FTCoE initiated a project to develop guidelines and checklists for Lean Facility Design (LFD).
Over the past decade, several tools have been developed to increase organizational efficiency and reduce backlogs, including process mapping and Lean Sigma Six (LSS). In 2011, a variation of LSS, named Lean Design was introduced as a novel approach to health facility design (Mersereau & Jimmerson, 2011). While the Lean Design approach has been successfully implemented in a number of health care research and development and quality management laboratories, it has not yet been applied to the planning and construction of forensic facilities.