November 22, 2004

The United States Justice Department announced the funding of five grants totaling more than $1.9 million to the DNA Identity Laboratory at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

The largest grant, for $750,000, will be used for an 18-month project that will focus on the DNA testing of unidentified remains and the family reference samples needed to identify them.

UNTHSC personnel will work with medical examiners, coronersâ?? offices, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Center for Missing Adults, and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States to identify and collect unidentified human remains samples and family reference samples. After analysis, the profiles will be entered into the FBIâ??s Combined DNA Index System and uploaded to the FBIâ??s National Missing Persons DNA Database.

â??This award will provide the manpower and equipment that the DNA Identity Laboratory needs, allowing more families of missing persons to find closure in their search for answers,â? said UNTHSC President Ronald Blanck, DO.

Two other awards from the NIJ also have a national focus. One award of $415,000 will fund a project to create more efficient methods of collecting DNA samples by developing standardized sample collection kits. The other award of almost $250,000 will provide funding to analyze new methods of testing DNA that may provide more conclusive results in mass disaster identification.

â??These grants provide us seed money to start addressing the needs for the country,â? said Arthur J. Eisenberg, PhD, director of the DNA Identity Lab. â??What Iâ??d like to see us eventually become is a national center for processing family reference samples.â?

The DNA Identity Lab houses the Texas Missing Persons DNA Database, which was established by the state legislature in 2001 with $1 million from the Crime Victimsâ?? Compensation Fund. The lab began accepting DNA samples Jan. 1, 2003.

The laboratory possesses an American Association of Blood Banks accreditation for paternity testing, the National Forensic Science Technological Center accreditation for forensic casework, and the International Standards Organization forensic accreditation.

As many as 40,000 remains throughout the United States are known to be unidentified.


Contact: Kay Colley at 817-735-2553, cell 817-980-5090, e-mail kacolley@hsc.unt.edu.

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