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Just Science Podcast: Just Forensic Genetic Genealogy and GEDmatch: Verogen's Approach

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2020
3 pages

This Forensic Science Week special episode in the National Institute of Justice's Just Science podcast series is an interview with Brett Williams, the CEO of Verogen, who discusses the features of the GEDmatch database and how it can be used by law enforcement investigators to perform forensic genealogy searches for investigative leads.


Background information for the interview notes that Verogen is a spin-off of the Illumina Corporation and has developed into an innovator in forensic genomic technologies. Verogen has evolved from forensic applications to a focus on biometrics-based human identification. In December 2019, Verogen acquired GEDmatch, a crowd-sourced database used by millions of persons who want to trace their family trees. More recently it has become a tool of law enforcement in cold case investigations. This interview with Brett Williams focuses on the impact that genetic genealogy and GEDmatch have had on criminal justice investigative techniques. The interview includes a review of the history of GEDmatch and its popularity in efforts to trace their family trees. Its use in forensic work was popularized when it was instrumental in the identification of the Golden State Killer. This has opened the door to its being used worldwide as a means of placing the DNA of an unknown person into a family tree and then narrowing the DNA sample to a limited number of persons in the family tree. Some examples of such cases are discussed in the interview. The forensic procedure for such a use of GEDmatch is discussed in the interview.

Date Published: September 1, 2020