NIST hosted a free one-day, webcast, workshop on interpreting forensic DNA mixtures in casework.
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.