Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DNA Conclusive Yet Still Controversial, Carnegie Mellon Professor Says

Date:
April 25, 2006
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Although the odds that DNA evidence found at a crime scene will match by chance the DNA of a person who was not there are infinitesimal, controversy continues about DNA identification and its use in criminal investigations, says Carnegie Mellon University Statistics Professor Kathryn Roeder. Roeder will present a historical overview of the use of DNA identification on Tuesday, April 25, during the Annual Symposia of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC.

Although the odds that DNA evidence found at a crime scene will match by chance the DNA of a person who was not there are infinitesimal, controversy continues about DNA identification and its use in criminal investigations, says Carnegie Mellon University Statistics Professor Kathryn Roeder. Roeder will present a historical overview of the use of DNA identification on Tuesday, April 25, during the Annual Symposia of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

Almost 28,000 cases nationwide have been prosecuted with help from the FBI's data bank of DNA profiles, while at least 170 people have seen their convictions overturned on appeal thanks to DNA evidence. Nonetheless, the use of DNA evidence in appeals has been impeded by political considerations and legal uncertainties, according to Roeder. "After all other legal avenues have been tried, the hope of any innocent person is that biological evidence from their cases still exists and can be subjected to DNA testing. But DNA's value to free the wrongfully convicted can be attained only if political leaders allow its full application," Roeder said. "Thousands currently await the evaluation of their cases."

In the early phases, technical disputes among scientists impeded the use of DNA evidence, Roeder said. One of the earliest controversies to erupt over DNA testing was the magnitude of genetic diversity among people of different ancestry.

Some controversy remains concerning the so-called "cold hit" technique, in which investigators search a DNA database to find a match of DNA found at a crime scene and then collect other evidence to build their case -- as opposed to first identifying a suspect through other evidence and then using DNA to confirm their case. Some critics claimed that this practice could snag an innocent person, but Roeder has demonstrated through her own research that the likelihood of a false hit are miniscule -- in one case, for example, it was about 1 in 26 quintillion, a probability so slight it needn't be shared with juries, Roeder said.

"The jury can't handle such small numbers. We would do them a service to simply tell them it matches or it doesn't match," Roeder said.

Roeder began her career as a biologist, and much of her current research is focused on using statistical tools to understand the workings of the human genome and the nature of inherited diseases. She is a member of the Bioinformatics and Statistics Genetics Group, which includes researchers in the departments of Statistics and Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon, and the departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. The group's primary research goal is to develop statistical tools for finding associations between patterns of genetic variation and complex disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "DNA Conclusive Yet Still Controversial, Carnegie Mellon Professor Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060425091854.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2006, April 25). DNA Conclusive Yet Still Controversial, Carnegie Mellon Professor Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060425091854.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "DNA Conclusive Yet Still Controversial, Carnegie Mellon Professor Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060425091854.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins