Marshall University Forensic Science Center receives federal funding through the President’s DNA initiative
Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center will receive $520,000 in Justice Department funding to train forensic criminologists in a new DNA initiative. The funding recognizes the highly specialized training that Marshall provides to experts and students alike. Marshall President Dan Angel said the Forensic Science Center’s service as a national resource for the forensic community quickens the university’s strides towards national prominence.
“I must add that without the foresight, leadership, and support of Senator Robert C. Byrd, Marshall University would not have been in a position to even compete for this award. Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology allows the Forensic Science Center to further expand its training infrastructure by utilizing its accredited DNA testing laboratory to assist the national effort to improve crime laboratories through DNA technology,” Angel said.
Terry W. Fenger, PhD., director of the Forensic Science Center, said many state crime laboratories need assistance and training to best utilize new DNA technologies that are helping to solve previously unsolved crimes. “The close association between academics and the DNA testing laboratory allows MUFSC to respond to the needs of forensic laboratories expeditiously,” Fenger said.
MUFSC will provide six week-long DNA laboratory training workshops on DNA extraction and analysis for human identification to 60 individuals in the forensic community. The National Institute of Justice will select individuals who work in crime laboratories and require training in forensic methods and techniques.
Also, MUFSC will provide a help desk for advice and consultations after training is completed. The center’s distance learning facility will be used for teleconferences for additional classroom and laboratory training sessions. MUFSC will lend equipment to crime laboratories that lack a telecommunications system to enable training sessions.
The Forensic Science Center developed the training program in support of its role as one of four core members of the Forensic Resource Network, a program funded by the National Institute of Justice providing research, evaluation tools, and direct services to crime laboratories. Two other FRN members that received funding for training from the President’s DNA Initiative were the National Forensic Science Technology Center and West Virginia University Forensic Science Initiative.
The President’s DNA initiative is a five-year, billion-dollar comprehensive federal initiative using DNA technology to strengthen and improve current federal and state DNA collection and analysis systems.
The Forensic Science Center also consists of the Forensic Science Program, a two-year Master’s degree program in Forensic Science and assists law enforcement in training and education to meet national standards and continuing education requirements. The center’s laboratories for the WV Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) are ISO/IEC 17025 compliant as a testing and calibration laboratory and are accredited as a DNA databasing laboratory for its forensics work.