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Applied Genetics Group


Since the late 1980s, NIST has had scientists involved in DNA testing. Early concerns over measurement accuracy and issues with poor quality control of forensic DNA tests caused the Department of Justice to call upon NIST scientists to help with standards development and technology evaluation. For the past several years, our Forensic Genetics Project Team has been part of the Applied Genetics of the Biomolecular Measurements Division at NIST. The Applied Genetics Group was formed to focus on developing standards and technology to aid human, plant, and animal identification and to benefit agricultural, law enforcement, and clinical applications using genetic information.

Our work is primarily nucleic acid-based and focuses on the characterization of genetic polymorphisms. We utilize the techniques of gel and capillary electrophoresis for the characterization of size- and sequence polymorphisms. Variations on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique such as rapid PCR, multiplex PCR, real-time PCR, and digital PCR are used to genotype, sequence, and provide quantitative information pertaining to an organism's genome. Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) developed by the Applied Genetics group enable accurate measurements of short tandem repeats (STRs) commonly used in the field of human identity testing. A clinical standard for the CAG triplet repeat-based Huntington's disease provides a calibration standard for the challenging measurements of these length based polymorphisms. Information and techniques developed by the Applied Genetics group are freely shared on the websites STRBase and Clinical DNA Information Resource.

Please click here to view our group Publications and Presentations

Clinical DNA Information Resource


Cytomegalovirus Standard Reference Material—**Update**As of September 1, 2015 SRM 2366a Cytomegalovirus DNA (Towne?147 BAC) for DNA Measurements was made available. The new material is a single component material …

DNA Biometrics—There is ongoing interest in utilizing DNA typing methods for biometric purposes. Forensic DNA typing using STR markers has been performed in the criminal justice system since 1998. At NIST the …

Certification of a Standard Reference Material for BK viral load—BK virus (BKV), originally described in 1971 [1], is a 5kb polyomavirus which shares roughly 75% of its DNA sequence with JC virus (JCV). Nearly 80% of the population is seropositive for these …

Digital PCR—Digital PCR (dPCR) is a method used to quantify nucleic acids (DNA, RNA, cDNA). At NIST we are using microfluidic and emulsion-based dPCR platforms for quantification of viral and human genome SRMs.

SRM for Huntington CAG Repeat— Huntington disease is a neurodegenerative disease of midlife onset that produces choreic movements and cognitive decline, often accompanied by psychiatric changes that affects approximately 1 …

26plex Autosomal Short Tandem Repeat Assay—A short tandem repeat (STR) multiplex assay was developed with 25 autosomal loci plus the sex-typing locus amelogenin for a total of 26 amplified products in a single reaction. Primers for the loci …

DNA Profiling Standard Reference Materials—NIST has produced several PCR-based DNA Profiling Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) for the forensic community. The primary uses of these materials are validation and calibration of currently …

Rapid Multiplex PCR—Forensic DNA typing is currently conducted in approximately eight to ten hours. The process includes DNA extraction, quantitation, multiplex PCR amplification, and fragment length detection. …

DNA Mixture Interpretation—Based on data collected over the last year from various forensic labs, (see http://www.cstl.nist.gov/biotech/strbase/mixture.htm) the majority of DNA evidence mixtures observed contain material …

CCQM BAWG - P113, Relative Quantification of Genomic DNA Fragments Extracted from a Biological Tisue—The US agricultural system is a major exporter of raw materials such as grain and finished foods, a large portion of which consists of commodity crops. Many of these crops are genetically modified …

DNA Analyst Training on Mixture Interpretation
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted a free one-day workshop on interpreting forensic DNA mixtures in casework. This workshop was webcast live to maximize participation by forensic DNA analysts.

Dr. Peter M. Vallone
Leader, Applied Genetics Group
301-975-4872 (office)
301-975-8505 (facsimile)