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Life Tech Gives $3.5M Grant to UNT Health Science Center for Forensics Program

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of North Texas Health Science Center today announced it recently received a three-year, $3.5 million grant from Life Technologies to train researchers in forensic DNA analysis techniques.

In a statement, the university said the program is a first of its kind accelerated academic certification program and targets scientists in geographic locations where DNA database legislation or DNA programs are being created to process samples and databases for use in criminal investigations and identity verification.

The grant will help establish "a hands-on didactic operational lab" with state-of-the-art equipment, faculty, and up to 20 fellowships, the university said in a statement. Life Tech is equipping a high-throughput laboratory for processing single-source DNA reference samples.

According to a Life Tech spokesperson, the company will outfit the lab with a "fully integrated workflow for processing single source samples." Instruments it is providing include the ABI 3500XL Genetic Analyzer, the ABI 96-well GeneAmp PCR System 9700, ABI GeneMapper ID-X data analysis software and supporting robotics.

A faculty director and two full-time training coordinator positions are also being established with the grant. The Health Science Center gets to keep the equipment for current and future DNA analysis, it said.

"As the world grows smaller and more interrelated, the need to share information in databases just multiplies," said Arthur Eisenberg, chairman of the department of forensic and investigative genomics at the UNT Health Science Center. "The number of missing, unidentified, and exploited people across the world is a silent mass disaster. By identifying these people, we can bring resolution to families, take criminals off the streets, and improve the outlook for people who had lost hope."

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