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Battelle to Evaluate NGS for Forensics with $800K Award

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Battelle today announced an $800,000 award from the National Institute of Justice to test next-generation sequencing tools for use in law enforcement.

Over a 19-month period, Battelle will conduct feasibility and validation tests on NGS instruments, laboratory materials, and software to assess their ability to "expand the probative information that may be obtained from forensic biological evidence," it said in a statement. The non-profit R&D organization also will evaluate biomarkers which could improve law enforcement's abilities to identify crime suspects and allow them to predict physical and ancestral characteristics to support investigations.

Working with other laboratories, Battelle will develop performance evaluation criteria and use genomic DNA samples provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to coordinate inter-laboratory studies, it said. The labs include the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; California Department of Justice; Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston; NIST; Pennsylvania State University; and Philadelphia Police Department.

"Next-generation sequencing will significantly expand our technical capabilities to support forensic science, law enforcement, and ultimately the criminal justice system," said Rich Guerrieri, research leader for Battelle's applied genomics, and former chief of the FBI Laboratory's nuclear DNA casework and database units. "Evaluating a technology's reliability and assessing its limitations are critical steps in the development of quality practices and formation of a strategic roadmap for NGS implementation by forensic laboratories."