The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) is working in collaboration with vendors, law enforcement, and practitioner communities to fundamentally understand NGS technology, develop training materials and implement high-quality workflows for forensic casework applications. The information and resources consolidated here by the CFSRE allows for the rapid dissemination of information to interested communities.

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Research

Researchers and scientists at the CFSRE are pioneering the use of NGS for forensic applications – from individualization to investigative lead generation – through assessment, validation, and research applications.

Benefits

As traditional forensic genomic testing capabilities have improved over the years, forensic laboratories worldwide have seen an increase in challenging DNA samples, often too complex to allow for the extraction of usable data. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies, also known as Massively Parallel DNA Sequencing (MPS), however, are revolutionizing forensic genomics.

The benefits of NGS technologies for forensic applications has been well documented over the past several years. NGS can:
  • Provide the same length-based information for STR target regions of interest for traditional DNA workflows while also providing additional sequence-based information
  • Simultaneously provide information for multiple genetic marker types including autosomal STR locations, X and Y chromosome markers for sex determination and individualization, as well as SNP markers that can aid with individualization and that are linked to ancestral and phenotypic characteristics
  • Develop more detailed genetic profiles from low quantity, low quality/degraded, and mixed biological evidence
  • Generate investigative intelligence regarding phenotypic traits and biogeographic ancestry providing new leads for forensic investigations even when no match is obtained from a DNA database search.

Applications

NGS methods developed at the CFSRE aim to generate DNA profiles from challenging sample types that failed to generate useful information through traditional Capillary Electrophoresis of STRs. This also includes the evaluation and the compatibility with traditional STR workflows, recommendations for complex mixtures using sequencing data, and generating recommendations for analyzing mixture sequencing data with probabilistic genotyping platforms.

Resources

The CFSRE is working to develop training materials and resources for law enforcement and practitioner communities to accelerate the implementation of NGS for criminal investigations.

The evaluation of a new technology can be time consuming and challenging, but there are numerous resources available for laboratories looking to discover the benefits of NGS technologies. The links below were compiled to aid forensic practitioners, crime lab directors and forensic researchers discover resources designed specifically for NGS applications.

  • Verogen
  • Thermo
  • SWGDAM
  • NIST
  • Battelle
  • STRSeq
  • STRaitRazor
  • STRIdER