This sixth episode of the DNA season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Leslie Parke and Jamie Haas, in which they discuss ways they have improved workflow efficiency in their private DNA lab ("Signature Science") in Austin, Texas.
Signature Science has increased its lab's production by introducing autotmatioin and eliminating unnecessary steps in the DNA analysis process. As a result, the lab has increased its productivity from 20 cases a month to thousands of cases a year. Parke and Haas discuss the benefits of eliminating serological testing and the impact of automation on lab productivity. The interview discusses both the process for increasing efficiency and the various areas where Signature Science has made changes to increase efficiency. The first step in improving efficiency is to analyze in detail how the lab is currently conducting its work and the time personnel are spending in various tasks. This is coupled with an investigation into what types of automated processes are relevant to processing trace evidence for DNA and then profiling the DNA. This involves determining cost, equipment performance, and training personnel in operating new equipment and adopting new work procedures. The efficient placement of equipment and personnel in the lab is also an issue. The particular ways in which automation has resulted in greater lab efficiency in DNA testing at Signature Science are described.