Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $246,149)
The Hamilton County Coroner's Office and Laboratory continues to face budgetary challenges and reduced funding from the Hamilton County local government. This award will ensure uninterrupted processing of Forensic Biology/DNA evidence that would otherwise be curtailed.
The goals and objectives of this project are threefold. First, with this grant funding, the Hamilton County Coroners Laboratory plans to increase the capacity of the DNA section by purchasing a differential extraction robot. This extraction robot will allow for the automated DNA extraction of semen stains in sexual assault cases. This robot will reduce the hands-on time associated with the labor-intensive separation and wash steps in the differential extraction procedure. Therefore, implementation of the differential extraction robot will increase the efficiency of the DNA section by standardizing sample processing and reducing hands-on time. Grant funds will also be used to pay for a validation team to perform the validation of the robot so that analysts are able to analyze current and backlogged cases and continue to decrease our backlog. We plan to use this grant funding to replace two outdated thermal cyclers which will also increase capacity of the section.
Secondly, we plan to reduce the backlog of forensic biology and DNA cases awaiting analysis by at least 106 cases. Grant funds will permit the purchasing of critical reagents and supplies necessary for the processing of these backlogged cases. The laboratory will process these cases in-house using existing procedures and recently upgraded equipment.
Lastly, the Hamilton County Coroners Laboratory plans to use grant funding to maintain the quality of DNA examinations in the laboratory. Monies will be used to help fund the purchase of proficiency tests for each analyst, as mandated by the FBI QAS document. Grant funds will also allow for the continuing education and professional development of the DNA analysts, as required by the FBI QAS document.
With reduced financial support from the local government, this federal funding will allow for the purchase of upgraded equipment to enhance the capacity of the DNA section. It will permit the purchase of critical reagents and other supplies necessary for the processing of backlogged cases, which would otherwise be delayed without this funding. The monies will also allow for the continuing education and professional development of the DNA analysts, as required by the FBI QAS document.