Since its introduction in the mid-1980s, forensic DNA testing has played an
important role in the criminal justice community through aiding conviction of
the guilty and exoneration of the innocent. Remains from missing persons and
victims of mass disasters have been re-associated and identified through
linking reference samples to recovered remains. New technologies are regularly
introduced and validated to expand the capabilities of laboratories working to
recover DNA results from challenging samples with improved sensitivity and
informativeness. Forensic laboratories have embraced automation for sample
preparation and data interpretation in order to meet increasing throughput
demands. Short tandem repeat (STR) typing continues to be the primary workhorse
in forensic DNA analysis although new genetic markers are under development for
This presentation will review where the field of forensic DNA testing has come
over the past 30 years and where it is likely headed over the next decade. New
STR loci have expanded the core set of genetic markers used for human
identification in Europe and the United States. Rapid DNA testing is on the
verge of enabling new applications. Massively parallel sequencing, also known
as next-generation sequencing, can provide a deeper look into genetic variation
with commonly used STR markers. Familial searching has expanded the application
of DNA database profiles beyond the traditional direct matches to information
contained in the database. Challenges and opportunities that will impact the
future of forensic DNA methodology and interpretation will be explored
including the need for education and training to improve interpretation of
complex DNA profiles.
John M. Butler is a NIST Fellow and Special Assistant to the Director for
Forensic Science at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
In January 2014, Dr. Butler was named a Vice-Chair of the National Commission
on Forensic Science (NCFS). He has written five volumes (2001, 2005, 2010,
2012, 2015) of his internationally acclaimed textbook Forensic DNA Typing as
well as two U.S. patents and 150 scientific articles and invited book chapters.
Several of his books have been translated into Chinese (2007, 2013) and
Japanese (2009). He holds a B.S. in chemistry from Brigham Young University and
a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Virginia. His Ph.D.
research, which was conducted in the FBI Laboratory, involved pioneering the
techniques now used worldwide in modern forensic DNA testing.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Butler has worked in government and industry. He
enjoys teaching and regularly presents training workshops to scientists,
students, and lawyers. He designed and maintains STRBase
(http://www.cstl.nist.gov/biotech/strbase), an information resource for short
tandem repeat DNA markers used in human identity testing.
He advises numerous national and international forensic DNA efforts including
being a regular invited guest to the FBI's Scientific Working Group on DNA
Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) and a member of the Biology/DNA Scientific Area
Committee of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC). From 2002
to 2005 as a member of the World Trade Center Kinship and Data Analysis Panel,
he aided the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner in their work to
identify the remains of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Dr. Butler is a
member of the International Society of Forensic Genetics (ISFG), the American
Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), and the International Association for
Identification (IAI). He serves as an Associate Editor for the prestigious
journal Forensic Science International: Genetics and is also on the editorial
board for the Journal of Forensic Sciences and the Egyptian Journal of Forensic
Dr. Butler has received numerous awards during his career including the
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2002), the
Department of Commerce Gold Medal (2008) and Silver Medal (2002), the Arthur S.
Flemming Award (2007), Edward Uhler Condon Award (2010), Brigham Young
University's College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Honored Alumnus
(2005), and the Scientific Prize of the International Society of Forensic
Genetics (2003). In August 2011, ScienceWatch.com announced that Dr. Butler was
number one in the world as a high-impact author (number of citations per paper
published) in legal medicine and forensic science for the decade of 2001-2011.
He and his wife serve in their community and church and are the parents of six
children, all of which have been proven to be theirs through DNA testing.
Dr. Anil K. Jain