DNA Identifications After the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack

Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 12/2005; 310(5751):1122-3. DOI: 10.1126/science.1116608
Source: PubMed


The attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 challenged current approaches to forensic DNA typing methods. The large number of victims and the extreme thermal and physical conditions of the site necessitated special approaches to the DNA-based identification. Because of these and many additional challenges, new procedures were created or modified from routine forensic protocols. This effort facilitated the identification of 1594 of the 2749 victims. In this Policy Forum, the authors, who were were members of the World Trade Center Kinship and Data Analysis Panel, review the lessons of the attack response from the perspective of DNA forensic identification and suggest policies and procedures for future mass disasters or large-scale terrorist attacks.

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    • "Eight of these STRs overlap with those used in Europe. The database of 13 million DNA profiles ( is deployed in crime scene investigations, accident victim and soldier identification, paternal testing, immigration, and missing person investigations as well as providing a reference point for identifying convicted felons (Biesecker et al. 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: The area of plant and animal genomics covers the entire suite of issues in biology because it aims to determine the structure and function of genetic material. Although specific issues define research advances at an organism level, it is evident that many of the fundamental features of genome structure and the translation of encoded information to function share common ground. The Plant and Animal Genome (PAG) conference held in San Diego (California), in January each year provides an overview across all organisms at the genome level, and often it is evident that investments in the human area provide leadership, applications, and discoveries for researchers studying other organisms. This mini-review utilizes the plenary lectures as a basis for summarizing the trends in the genome-level studies of organisms, and the lectures include presentations by Ewan Birney (EBI, UK), Eric Green (NIH, USA), John Butler (NIST, USA), Elaine Mardis (Washington, USA), Caroline Dean (John Innes Centre, UK), Trudy Mackay (NC State University, USA), Sue Wessler (UC Riverside, USA), and Patrick Wincker (Genoscope, France). The work reviewed is based on published papers. Where unpublished information is cited, permission to include the information in this manuscript was obtained from the presenters.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Functional & Integrative Genomics
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    • "At present the forensic DNA technology directly affects the lives of millions people worldwide. The general acceptance of this technique is still high, reports on the DNA identification of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks [48], of natural disasters as the Hurricane Katrina [49], and of recent wars (for example, in former Yugoslavia [50]) and dictatorship (for example, in Argentina [51]) impress the public in the same way as police investigators in white suits securing DNA evidence at a broken door. CSI watchers know, and even professionals believe, that DNA will inevitably solve the case just following the motto Do Not Ask, it’s DNA, stupid! "
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    ABSTRACT: DNA fingerprinting, one of the great discoveries of the late 20th century, has revolutionized forensic investigations. This review briefly recapitulates 30 years of progress in forensic DNA analysis which helps to convict criminals, exonerate the wrongly accused, and identify victims of crime, disasters, and war. Current standard methods based on short tandem repeats (STRs) as well as lineage markers (Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA) are covered and applications are illustrated by casework examples. Benefits and risks of expanding forensic DNA databases are discussed and we ask what the future holds for forensic DNA fingerprinting.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Investigative Genetics
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    • "As an example of setting a prior probability, in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), it was determined that a little less than 3,000 people died in the disaster [2]. The prior probability was set at approximately 1/3,000 [2] and could have been updated as identifications were made or increased by using gender [2]. Other nongenetic information often could not be included into the prior probability, because the vast majority of remains were severely fragmented. "
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT: Identification of missing persons from mass disasters is based on evaluation of a number of variables and observations regarding the combination of features derived from these variables. DNA typing now is playing a more prominent role in the identification of human remains, and particularly so for highly decomposed and fragmented remains. The strength of genetic associations, by either direct or kinship analyses, is often quantified by calculating a likelihood ratio. The likelihood ratio can be multiplied by prior odds based on nongenetic evidence to calculate the posterior odds, that is, by applying Bayes' Theorem, to arrive at a probability of identity. For the identification of human remains, the path creating the set and intersection of variables that contribute to the prior odds needs to be appreciated and well defined. Other than considering the total number of missing persons, the forensic DNA community has been silent on specifying the elements of prior odds computations. The variables include the number of missing individuals, eyewitness accounts, anthropological features, demographics and other identifying characteristics. The assumptions, supporting data and reasoning that are used to establish a prior probability that will be combined with the genetic data need to be considered and justified. Otherwise, data may be unintentionally or intentionally manipulated to achieve a probability of identity that cannot be supported and can thus misrepresent the uncertainty with associations. The forensic DNA community needs to develop guidelines for objectively computing prior odds.
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