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Forensic Aspects of DNA-based Human Identity Testing

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Nursing Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 150-156
Stephen M. Roper M.S.; Owatha L. Tatum Ph.D.
Date Published
7 pages
This paper discusses the state of modern DNA-based identity testing, describes the technology used to perform this testing, and describes its use as it relates to forensic applications.
Modern molecular techniques have become everyday practice for a variety of applications within the clinical laboratory. Modern DNA-based identity testing technology using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has given forensic medicine a statistical certainty and technical power hardly imaginable until early in this 21st century. This technology has enabled forensic cases long ago put away to be reexamined using existing archival evidence. Identity testing utilizing unique DNA markers also provides clinical professionals with a wealth of information impacting patient care, including transplant analysis, paternity testing, and assessment of victims of sexually oriented crimes. Available technologies such as PCR, Southern blot, and electrophoresis offer multiple approaches to the unique problems addressed by identity testing in the clinical laboratory. By gaining a small insight into the world of molecular identity testing, clinical professionals arm themselves with a new weapon in the fight against, not only disease, but also against crime. DNA testing encompasses a host of useful applications in the clinical environment; however, the variety of applications for DNA-based human identity testing is often overlooked. It is imperative that all practitioners contributing to the care of individuals in the forensics environment understand the concepts and technologies that make DNA-based identification possible. This paper attempts to assist healthcare providers develop an understanding of the background, techniques, and guiding principles of this important forensic tool. Figures, table, and references