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|NMS Labs, USA|
|ScientificTracks Abstracts: Transcriptomics|
|Due to years of mishandling and inadequate funds to process sexual assault kits (SAK), the backlog of these cases has launched to the forefront of the current news. An unknown number of kits, estimated to be around 400,000, across the US have been sitting untested. The true number is unknown due to the poor tracking of kits in different storage facilities. Due to this fact, a heavy push has occurred in legislation over the past years to evaluate and address the backlog. This demand to remedy the problem has created funding opportunities at different levels and strategies for how the different states and laboratories can handle them. Some labs have pioneered the way (NYC OCME and Detroit) and others have followed their recommendations. Many laboratories have chosen to outsource the backlog, which is where labs like NMS have come in to be involved with this reduction. Currently, NMS Labs assists two separate jurisdictions in the testing of their sexual assault kits. Testing of these samples is designed to utilize a streamlined approach aimed at obtaining the best possible result from a high volume of samples with a relatively short processing time. To achieve this, a Y-Screen protocol has been utilized and optimized. Some laboratories, like NMS, have internally developed such Y-Screen protocols, modeled after those recommended by other laboratories as well as manufacturers of forensic DNA instruments and reagents. These protocols all work around the same concept to initially screen the samples for male DNA and then choose the best samples to send forward for STR analysis. Utilizing these techniques, NMS Labs has been processing SAK backlog samples for over a year and had success in developing DNA profiles foreign to the victim from these kits which have been sitting untested for over a decade.|
Megan Foley is working as a Forensic Biologist at NMS Labs. She possesses a BA in Biology from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and a MSFS from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Her current works include examination and interpretation of casework samples, as well as leading validations and projects for the Forensic Biology Department at NMS. She also is a Fellow for the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education where she assists in Teaching Forensic Biology methods and assists with research. Her areas of research have focused on optimizing the DNA recovery from pipe bombs after being rendered safe but also have included optimizing and evaluating a variety of current DNA and serological methods. She has also received her certification through the American Board of Criminalistics in Molecular Biology.
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