In this podcast episode of the Justice Today series sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Tracey Johnson, a forensic scientist with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), discusses “Rapid DNA,” a term used to describe an automated process for quickly developing a DNA profile in under 90 minutes.
She has served as a forensic technical analyst with the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency, where she coordinated forensics activities across the U.S. Department of Defense and its multinational partners. She has extensive experience with human DNA testing for bio-biotechnology, research and development lab, and human remains testing lab. In the interview, she defines Rapid DNA as “the development of a DNA profile using a fully automated process without any human intervention, what’s commonly known as swab in and profile out.” Essentially, a Rapid DNA instrument recreates the modern DNA processing workflow using a modified extraction, PCR amplification separation, and data interpretation method. This creates a DNA profile from a high-quality single source sample in less than 90 minutes. She indicates that currently Rapid DNA instruments are being used by both law enforcement agencies and booking stations, as well as by forensic laboratories. They are being used to process known reference buccal samples only when those samples are to be included in the national DNA database. A number of regulations and requirements have been developed by the FBI for those profiles that are to be included in the national DNA Index. These include regulations for the platform or the instrument for the amplification chemistry being used, or for the cartridge itself.