DNA RESEARCH AT UNT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER FOCUSES ON IMPROVING TEST RESULTS ON SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE
Research Funded By National Institute Of Justice

November 27, 2000

FORT WORTH, Texasâ??The quality of the evidence is critical to solving any crime, and when trying to identify a rapist, crime labs need the best specimen available. Successful DNA testing can mean the difference between an unsolved crime and an arrest.

The DNA Identity Laboratory at the University of North Texas Health Science Center is working on an innovative system that, if successful, will enhance the quality of the specimen by first separating sperm from the rest of the sexual assault evidence and then amplifying its DNA.

“This antibody/magnetic bead reagent system should offer the forensic community a differential extraction methodology that results in greater yields and higher purity of sperm DNA,” said Arthur J. Eisenberg, PhD, director of the DNA Identity Lab.

The National Institute of Justice has awarded $272,000 to the health science center to fund the DNA research. Researchers will evaluate the reagent system and attempt to automate the cellular sorting method that isolates the sperm cells from other evidence.

Current methods to extract sperm and purify DNA for sexual assault evidence can be lengthy and tedious. The extracting procedures are often incomplete, and the final product may contain DNA from both the victim and the assailant.

An automated extraction system is essential to decrease the existing backlog of unresolved sexual assault cases in the United States. The long-term success of the new nationwide Combined DNA Indexing System also relies on analyzing all rape/sexual assault cases, especially those lacking a known suspect.

“Without an automated extraction system, the backlog of cases will continue to grow,” said Dr. Eisenberg. “Weâ??re hoping to change from the current labor intensive system to an automated one that produces better and faster results.”

The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 350,000 rapes and sexual assaults were experienced by persons age 12 or older in the United States in 1995. About 100,000 of these are actually reported to the authorities, with only approximately 25,000 cases analyzed by crime labs nationwide.

The health science centerâ??s DNA Identity Laboratory provides scientific and technical support for Texas law enforcement agencies and crime labs. It provides DNA testing for the state of Texas in sexual assault cases that result in conception. The lab is the only public agency in Texas that performs mitochondrial forensic DNA testing.

The DNA Identity Laboratory was created in 1989 to provide paternity testing and forensic genetic screenings. Since then, the lab has performed more than 50,000 paternity tests.

This year, the UNT Health Science Center established a new masterâ??s degree program in forensic genetics. The program trains professionals in forensic genetics at a level that surpasses the requirements instituted by the national standards for forensic DNA analysis. Graduates will be qualified to do forensic casework, human population genetics, parentage testing, criminalistics, genetic data analysis, human identification, biostatistics, wildlife forensics and molecular genetics.

Jerry Simecka
Relieving the pain of peripheral arterial disease

By Jan Jarvis [caption id="attachment_200398685" align="alignright" width="200"] Dr. Jin Liu[/caption] For someone with peripheral arterial disease – a condition that causes narrowing of arteries in the limbs - pain is a big problem. “The treatment for it is exercise,” said Eric G...Read more

Jul 19, 2018

Heath Fc
Protecting her daughters’ generation from Alzheimer’s

By Alex Branch Janet Heath has a deeply personal interest in Alzheimer’s disease. Her mother suffered from it, as did her grandmother. Heath spent the last 10 years of her mother’s life trying to coordinate high-quality care as the disease took its terrible toll. That’s why Heath and ...Read more

Jul 17, 2018

Sid Fc
A blood test that IDs Alzheimer’s earlier, easier and cheaper

By Jan Jarvis   The first study of a blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease within a primary care setting soon will be conducted at UNT Health Science Center. The simple test could be a game-changer in the diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s. If successful, it would be possible to ide...Read more

Jul 12, 2018

Dr. Taylor
New Provost: Let’s ‘unleash our strengths and ignite our future’

By Jeff Carlton Charles Taylor, PharmD, who has presided over a number of critical academic milestones as Dean of the UNT System College of Pharmacy, will become Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at UNT Health Science Center. Dr. Taylor said he was “excited, honore...Read more

Jul 11, 2018