Expert Panel to Discuss Controversial Familial DNA Searching at 21st International Symposium on Human Identification

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An international panel of law enforcement, legal and forensic experts will examine the positive and negative aspects of familial searching at the 21st Internatinoal Symposium on Human Identification, October 11-14, 2010.

The controversial use of familial searching is among the timely issues in DNA analysis that will be debated at this year’s International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI). The symposium, held October 11-14 in San Antonio, is the only conference to focus exclusively on DNA analysis and attracts forensic scientists from around the world.

An international panel of law enforcement, legal and forensic experts will examine the positive and negative aspects of familial searching. The practice recently attracted national attention after its successful use in solving California’s Grim Sleeper serial rape/murder case. Some experts suggest familial searching could increase the yield of investigative leads by 40 percent. It has been used in the United Kingdom since 2002. But familial searching also raises serious ethical questions. Should relationship to a felon open a person up to investigation? Could it become a form of racial profiling?

The ISHI familial searching panel will include:

  •     Bruce Budowle, moderator: Executive Director of the Institute of Investigative Genetics and Professor at the Department of Forensic and Investigative Genetics, University of North Texas Health Science Center
  •     Chris Maguire, UK perspective on familial searching: Senior Forensic Consultant, International Division, at Forensic Science Service Ltd., in Birmingham, England
  •     Jennifer Luttman, CODIS and familial searching: CODIS Unit Chief, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division
  •     Sonia Sutter, privacy and other issues: Professor of Law, George Washington University, specializing in bioethics and genetics and law
  •     Rockne Harmon, legal, policy and race-based genetic discrimination issues: Forensic/Cold Case Consultant at DNARock; retired Senior Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County (Calif.) District Attorney’s Office

Additional presentations and hot topics at ISHI include:

  •     Best-selling author Ann Rule on how she became a crime writer
  •     The latest developments in portable DNA testing in the field, known as “lab on a chip”
  •     What King Tut’s DNA reveals about the boy king’s life and death
  •     Europe’s proposed forensic standards to minimize DNA contamination during the manufacturing process. Contamination caused a 16-year hunt for the “Phantom of Heilbronn,” a theoretical female serial killer striking on multiple continents who turned out to be an employee at a cotton swab factory.
  •     Battlefield DNA forensic labs, providing actionable intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan
  •     The remarkable story of one of America’s most lethal, sadistic and unknown criminals– James Mitchell DeBardelben.

October 11 – 14, 2010

JW Marriot San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa
23808 Resort Parkway
San Antonio, Texas, 78261, USA

For a full conference agenda, visit:

Promega Corporation is a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry. The company’s 2,000 products enable scientists worldwide to advance their knowledge in genomics, proteomics, cellular analysis, molecular diagnostics and human identification. Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA with branches in 14 countries and over 50 global distributors. For more information about Promega, visit


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Lynda Claas
Promega Corporation
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