Friday, November 20, 2009

DNA Evidence Fabricated

by blogger hcn

UPDATE: I'm re-posting this. For those of you wondering, I think the linked to news story is the reason for the asinine storyline on this weeks SVU. -jl

I recently saw a series of segments on a news show questioning forensic science. After examining several areas of forensic science and questioning their validity, they made a statement that DNA evidence seems to be the only truly accurate evidence to link a person to a crime scene. According to a recent New York Times article, that may not be the case anymore. Scientists in Israel were able to fabricate blood and saliva samples with DNA from a person other than the donor.

The authors of the paper took blood from a woman and centrifuged it to remove the white cells, which contain DNA. To the remaining red cells they added DNA that had been amplified from a man’s hair. Since red cells do not contain DNA, all of the genetic material in the blood sample was from the man. The authors sent it to a leading American forensics laboratory, which analyzed it as if it were a normal sample of a man’s blood.

Obviously a person attempting to fake and plant DNA evidence would need a background in biology and DNA analysis techniques to pull this off. I think it's safe to say your average criminal won't be able to have access to the necessary equipment and the knowledge to do this, but it is an interesting new study.

NRC Report - Free

by blogger jgl

The NRC report on forensic science is now available for free. Previously, I think there was a charge to access the full report. The report can be accessed here.

This report provides some constructive criticism of the current state of forensic labs in the US. It's something that forensic scientists are talking about.

Recognizing that significant improvements are needed in forensic science, Congress directed the National Academy of Sciences to undertake the study that led to this report. There are scores of talented and dedicated people in the forensic science community, and the work that they perform is vitally important. They are often strapped in their work, however, for lack of adequate resources, sound policies, and national support. It is clear that change and advancements, both systemic and scientific, are needed in a number of forensic science disciplines—to ensure the reliability of the disciplines, establish enforceable standards, and promote best practices and their consistent application.