Science News – September 19, 2013


The human genome may have DNA irregularities; DNA identification for large scale disasters may have some inefficiency; and the City Council in New York City passes important legislation requiring transparency and accountability in labs. Here is the round up of news for the week:


An article in

The New York Times

explains how commonly held beliefs that the human genome is consistent throughout the body are being questioned because recent research

suggests that genetic variation can exist in a single body

. The article cites numerous research examples that show how cells or tissues throughout the body can have different DNA sequences or even multiple genomes. This research could impact how forensic DNA test results are analyzed.


Although DNA testing can be extremely useful for identifying people who have been killed due to large-scale disasters, an NPR story discusses

how its effectiveness can be problematic

. According to the article, forensic experts’ concerns include DNA collection and matching processes being ad hoc and disorganized, problems managing and reading thousands of DNA samples using extremely sophisticated technology and trouble with not using similar testing standards across nations.


The New York City Council passed a pair of bills to improve the accountability and transparency in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Under this new legislation, the OCME

will have to thoroughly investigate significant errors and disclose the results to the mayor and City Council

, and post proficiency testing results of lab employees. The new legislation comes in response to numerous OCME-related scandals and a report conducted by Sorenson Forensics that described the management at the office’s DNA lab as “weak.”


Bowling Green University in Ohio will

begin construction of a new crime lab in October

. Built in partnership with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for the state, the state-funded facility will allow professors to engage in forensic research and give graduate students possibilities for internships.

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