DNA Manipulation Exposes Unseen Vulnerability in Testing


The alleged falsifying of DNA testing data by a Montgomery County-based laboratory employee has exposed a vulnerability in computerized forensic analysis previously unknown to some experts, raising questions about the reliability of the most widely used and trusted method of testing, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Orchid Cellmark employee electronically manipulated the analysis in 20 tests, the company says. Though she did not alter the outcome of the tests, she overrode procedures designed to ensure the accuracy of the tests by substituting data in the known specimen, or control samples, according to Cellmark.

“I have not heard of anything like this before,” said Lawrence Kobilinsky, an associate provost at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Analyzing DNA through computer software emerged in the mid-1990s and has become the most trusted and reliable method of forensic analysis, Kobilinsky said: “I would find it surprising if anyone has ever done this or if anything like this has been discovered before.” Cellmark – the world’s largest private DNA testing firm – fired Sarah Blair in September for “professional misconduct” involving the cases, performed for the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Link: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/health/bal-te.ho.dna19nov19,1,4293262.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

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