Category Archives: Forensic DNA

Journal articles relating to forensic DNA including disaster victim identification.

New in the library collection – Forensic DNA typing: interpretation

Advanced topics in forensic DNA typing: interpretation (2015) / John M. Butler

Advanced Topics in Forensic DNA Typing: Interpretation builds upon the previous two editions of John Butler’s internationally acclaimed Forensic DNA Typing textbook with forensic DNA analysts as its primary audience. Intended as a third-edition companion to the Fundamentals of Forensic DNA Typing volume published in 2010 and Advanced Topics in Forensic DNA Typing: Methodology published in 2012, this book contains 16 chapters with 4 appendices providing up-to-date coverage of essential topics in this important field. Over 80 % of the content of this book is new compared to previous editions.

  • Provides forensic DNA analysts coverage of the crucial topic of DNA mixture interpretation and statistical analysis of DNA evidence
  • Worked mixture examples illustrate the impact of different statistical approaches for reporting results
  • Includes allele frequencies for 24 commonly used autosomal STR loci, the revised Quality Assurance Standards which went into effect September 2011

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[In Depth] Forensic labs explore blind testing to prevent errors

Science 31 July 2015:  Vol. 349 no. 6247 pp. 462-463
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6247.462

Last week, at the first International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management in Arlington, Virginia, nearly 500 forensic scientists, crime lab managers, and other practitioners confronted the factors that have led to unreliable results in the field. A key problem, many said, is that people who evaluate evidence from crime scenes have access to information about a case that could bias their analysis. That subconscious bias could arise from irrelevant contextual information, such as the nature of the crime or police investigators’ beliefs about a suspect’s guilt, or from the physical evidence itself. As forensics struggles to recover from revelations of serious flaws in its methodology and scientific underpinnings, more labs are considering ways to shield their examiners from potential bias.

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Comparison of hard tissues that are useful for DNA analysis in forensic autopsy

Legal Medicine Available online 3 July 2015

Forensic analysis of DNA from hard tissues can be important when investigating a variety of cases resulting from mass disaster or criminal cases. This study was conducted to evaluate the most suitable tissues, method and sample size for processing of hard tissues prior to DNA isolation. We also evaluated the elapsed time after death in relation to the quantity of DNA extracted. Samples of hard tissues (37 teeth, 42 skull, 42 rib, and 39 nails) from 42 individuals aged between 50 and 83 years were used. The samples were taken from remains following forensic autopsy (from 2 days to 2 years after death). To evaluate the integrity of the nuclear DNA isolated, the percentage of allele calls for short tandem repeat profiles were compared between the hard tissues. DNA typing results indicated that until one month after death, any of the four hard tissue samples could be used as an alternative to teeth, allowing analysis of all of the loci. However, in terms of the sampling site, collection method and sample size adjustment, the rib appeared to be the best choice in view of the ease of specimen preparation. Our data suggest that the rib could be an alternative hard tissue sample for DNA analysis of human remains.

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U.S. initiatives to strengthen forensic science & international standards in forensic DNA

Forensic Science International: Genetics  Available online 30 June 2015

A number of initiatives are underway in the United States in response to the 2009 critique of forensic science by a National Academy of Sciences committee. This article provides a broad review of activities including efforts of the White House National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Forensic Science and a partnership between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create the National Commission on Forensic Science and the Organization of Scientific Area Committees. These initiatives are seeking to improve policies and practices of forensic science. Efforts to fund research activities and aid technology transition and training in forensic science are also covered.

The second portion of the article reviews standards in place or in development around the world for forensic DNA. Documentary standards are used to help define written procedures to perform testing. Physical standards serve as reference materials for calibration and traceability purposes when testing is performed. Both documentary and physical standards enable reliable data comparison, and standard data formats and common markers or testing regions are crucial for effective data sharing. Core DNA markers provide a common framework and currency for constructing DNA databases with compatible data. Recent developments in expanding core DNA markers in Europe and the United States are discussed.

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Secondary and subsequent DNA transfer during criminal investigation

Forensic Science International: Genetics Volume 17, July 2015, Pages 155–162

With the introduction of new multiplex PCR kits and instrumentation such as the Applied Biosystems 3500xl, there has recently been a rapid change in technology that has greatly increased sensitivity of detection so that a DNA profile can routinely be obtained from only a few cells. Research to evaluate the risks of passive transfer has not kept pace with this development; hence the risk of innocent DNA transfer at the crime-scene is currently not properly understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility of investigator-mediated transfer of DNA traces with disposable nitrile-gloves used during crime-scene examinations. We investigated the primary transfer of freshly deposited DNA from touched plastic, wood or metal substrates and secondary and tertiary transfer by a person wearing disposable nitrile-gloves and onto a third object. We show that with use of the new highly sensitive technologies available in forensic DNA analysis there is an enhanced probability to obtain a DNA-profile which has not been directly deposited on the object but is an outcome of one or more transfer events. The nitrile-gloves used by investigators during exhibit examination can act as a vector for DNA transfer from one item to another. We have shown that the amount of DNA deposited on an object affects the probability of transfer. Secondly, the type of substrate material that DNA is deposited onto has an impact on transfer rates.

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Leading-edge forensic DNA analyses and the necessity of including crime scene investigators, police officers and technicians in a DNA elimination database

Forensic Science International: Genetics Available online 12 June 2015

In recent years, sophisticated technology has significantly increased the sensitivity and analytical power of genetic analyses so that very little starting material may now produce viable genetic profiles. This sensitivity however, has also increased the risk of detecting unknown genetic profiles assumed to be that of the perpetrator, yet originate from extraneous sources such as from crime scene workers. These contaminants may mislead investigations, keeping criminal cases active and unresolved for long spans of time. Voluntary submission of DNA samples from crime scene workers is fairly low, therefore we have created a promotional method for our staff elimination database that has resulted in a significant increase in voluntary samples since 2011. Our database enforces privacy safeguards and allows for optional anonymity to all staff members. We also offer information sessions at various police precincts to advise crime scene workers of the importance and success of our staff elimination database. This study, a pioneer in its field, has obtained 327 voluntary submissions from crime scene workers to date, of which 46 individual profiles (14%) have been matched to 58 criminal cases. By implementing our methods and respect for individual privacy, forensic laboratories everywhere may see similar growth and success in explaining unidentified genetic profiles in stagnate criminal cases.

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New book in the library collection: The murder of Allison Baden-Clay

The Murder of Allison Baden-Clay (2014) / David Murray
The Murder of Allison Baden-Clay is written by the investigative journalist who covered the case from the start. It weaves together exclusive interviews and police and court records to explain how a father with no criminal history came to be on trial for a brutal murder. It’s also a story about everyday choices and their consequences.

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