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NIJ Awards $800K Grant to Assess NGS Technology for Forensics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institute of Justice has awarded a team of researchers $825,000 to assess the use of next-generation sequencing technology for forensic applications, Pennsylvania State University said on Thursday. 

Battelle Memorial Institute, the lead institute on the grant, will work with Penn State and six other federal and local laboratories to test the feasibility of new instruments, laboratory materials, and software tools for DNA-based forensics science with the goal of vetting NGS technologies and implementing them into working crime laboratories. 

Penn State is the only university partner on the grant, it said, and it will run evaluations of forensic investigative tools that could expand the capabilities of forensic DNA labs. 

According to the grant abstract, DNA samples provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology will be sequenced using Illumina's MiSeq platform or Life Technologies' Ion PGM Sequencing System. Interlaboratory testing will be managed by Battelle; Penn State; NIST; the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the California Department of Justice; the Philadelphia Police Department; and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

"This exciting technology allows for the generation of DNA profiles that can be compared to known suspects, victims, or profiles within state and federal databases while also exploiting new locations on the DNA where single base-pair differences may provide 'investigative information' in cases where no suspects have been developed or discovered,"Penn State professor Jenifer Smith said in a statement.