Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Battelle President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth announced today a ground-breaking Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) project at the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Laboratory in London, Ohio. NGS will enhance BCI’s DNA testing capabilities in solving missing persons cases in Ohio.
“This will position BCI to be a national leader in DNA forensics,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I am proud to work with Battelle on the future applications of this cutting-edge technology because it’s a clear benefit to Ohio families of missing loved ones. With NGS at BCI, we hope to generate faster DNA results and obtain an expanded range of DNA information to help investigators make identifications.”
Headquartered in Columbus, Battelle has spent five years implementing NGS technology in the field for the U.S. Department of Defense and was chosen to lead a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) project evaluating NGS methods in forensic labs around the country.
BCI and Battelle forensic scientists are now working together in the BCI London lab to validate and implement NGS technology in the BCI laboratory with the hope that this new technology can be used in Ohio missing persons forensic cases.
“Collaborating with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the illustrious BCI laboratory is a great opportunity for our scientists who are advancing this important technology,” said Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth. “It puts Ohio in the leadership position of doing what others in the nation have not yet achieved and aligns with Battelle’s core mission of investing in original research that will provide societal benefits.”
Solving missing persons cases requires testing of DNA from human remains, often degraded tissue or weathered bones. The human remains are then compared with DNA samples from potential family members of missing loved ones. Specialized DNA testing required in these cases is not currently available at BCI. The specialized testing is done at a federally-funded out-of-state lab, which can take up to six months for results, a long time for a family to wait.
With this partnership, NGS testing will be done at the BCI laboratory in London, speeding up results. And while the current specialized testing does not always return results if samples are extremely degraded, NGS testing can often do better and return a DNA profile.
The goal is to solve more missing persons investigations for Ohio families. Currently, there are approximately 600 missing children and 600 missing adults in Ohio.