DDC Helps Identify Victims of Hurricane Katrina

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DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) has been selected from an elite group of DNA testing laboratories to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in identifying the remaining unidentified victims of Hurricane Katrina. DDC is contributing its expertise and experience in genetic reconstruction, an identification method that is now being used for situations that, due to decomposition and the loss of medical records, have exhausted all other available identification methods.

Seven months after Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast, the family members of hundreds of missing persons are still hoping for their loved ones to be found and identified. To aid in the massive effort of identifying the remaining victims of Hurricane Katrina, DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) has been selected from an elite group of laboratories to contribute its expertise in DNA testing. The effort will focus on genetic reconstruction, an identification method that is now being used for situations that, due to decomposition and the loss of medical records, have exhausted all other available identification methods.

Dr. Thomas Reid, Associate Laboratory Director at DDC, specializes in the extended DNA testing required in complex cases such as the genetic reconstructions used to identify Hurricane Katrina victims. In the next three months, he will travel several times to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to personally lend his expertise and assistance to the identification effort.

“I’m really excited to play a role in this effort—to use something I do every day for a different, urgently needed purpose,” Dr. Reid says. After the hurricane occurred last August, he continues, DDC held a company fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross and families directly affected by the hurricane. “Our involvement in the FEMA identification effort,” he says, “is another way for DDC to assist in hurricane relief.”

DDC is teaming up with FEMA to reunite families and give closure to those who have lost relatives. The team is collecting DNA samples from deceased individuals and the family members of missing persons, analyzing the samples, and storing the resulting DNA profiles in a dedicated database. Genetic reconstruction experts such as Dr. Reid will then use the database to examine the profiles and look for similarities among the DNA markers.

Certain DNA markers that are shared among a deceased individual’s DNA profile and several survivors’ reference sample profiles indicate that a relative has been found and can now be identified. The database may also be used to help survivors locate other related survivors who were displaced by the hurricane.

DDC’s laboratory is staffed by leading experts in the DNA testing industry. They offer years of experience and expertise in the field and provide quality DNA testing services to answer questions about family relationships and forensic evidence. For more information about family relationship or forensic DNA testing, please visit http://www.dnacenter.com or call 1-800-613-5768.

About DDC

DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) is the world’s largest provider of private paternity tests. Since 1995, DDC has performed hundreds of thousands of genetic tests for clients in all 50 U.S. states and around the world. DDC offers comprehensive DNA testing services in several specialty areas: family relationship testing, forensics, and veterinary DNA testing. As the leading force in the private DNA testing industry, DDC was one of the first to adopt robotics technology in its laboratory processes for stringent and efficient handling of DNA samples. DDC’s unique Dual Process™ and extended DDC Plex™ panel ensure results of unmatched quality and reliability.

DDC’s quality DNA testing services are nationally and internationally recognized by a number of professional accrediting organizations such as the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), American Association of Crime Laboratory Directors–Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB-International), the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and the Forensic Quality Services (FQS-I, ISO/IEC-17025).

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Jim Hanigan
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