Category Archives: Laboratory

Looking for training or technical assistance?

Does your agency need crime scene investigation training, forensic consulting, technology assessments or reviews?  During these lean economic times, forensic support can help bridge the gap between your agency’s limited resources and your challenging service requirements.

NFSTC is a Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) provider for the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), providing these and other services and support for local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies.  Whether you need to train personnel or find a way to increase case efficiencies, NFSTC’s nationwide network of forensic scientists and consultants are ready to help.

To request assistance, please let us know a little bit about the support you need using our quick and easy form online: 

We’ll reach out to you and coordinate submitting your request to BJA for approval. 

NFSTC also maintains a wide variety of online training at no charge. Visit to see what is currently available for you and your investigative team.

NFSTC provides BJA TTA Services under cooperative agreement #2009-D1-BX-K028.  Organizations requesting training or technical assistance (TTA) will be required to provide information and justification for their request. All requests must be submitted at least 30-45 days prior to the anticipated date of service. BJA does not consider requests to purchase equipment as technical assistance requests.

Biological fluid collection device comparison

As technology advances and forensic scientists are able to examine ever smaller amounts of DNA, it becomes more important than ever that collection of biological material is done in a manner that is efficient, nondestructive and with the least possibility for contamination.

But while DNA analysis may employ high-tech equipment, a decidedly low-tech device is key to performing this process: a swab.

To determine whether some swabs are more efficient at collecting and releasing dried biological fluids than others, NFSTC scientists examined nine different swabs of varying materials/styles to gauge their performance in this application. In addition, the frequently utilized “double-swab technique” was examined to determine if it provided any additional advantages.

To review the results of the study, download the Swab Collection Comparison Study now.  To view additional reports, visit the NFSTC technology evaluations page.

This project was funded through the NIJ Forensic Technologies Center of Excellence, Award No. 2010-DN-BX-K210.

NFSTC announces DNA Technical Review services

With today’s laboratories often stretched to the limit, the technical review step for forensic and database DNA testing can create a huge hurdle to timely casework. NFSTC now offers technical review services for case work and databasing, as allowed by the FBI Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) for DNA Databasing Laboratories  and Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories (9/1/2011), to get your eligible profiles reviewed for faster entry into CODIS.

Laboratories can improve turn-around time while keeping analysts working the current case load, improve the chances that a perpetrator can be apprehended before striking again and exonerate falsely accused individuals.   

NFSTC offers:

  • A nationwide team of experienced casework and database analysts
  • Established processes to keep casework and database case reviews in compliance with the FBI Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) and prevent conflicts of interest
  • Flexible scheduling for on-site casework and/or database sample reviews
  • Secure file transfer systems for affordable off-site casework and/or database sample reviews

Our analysts are available for proficiency testing and will work in compliance with all laboratory requirements and protocols.  In addition, paperwork will be provided to the laboratory to demonstrate compliance with the FBI QAS.

 As per NIJ’s FY 2012 DNA Backlog Reduction Program, outsourced technical review costs can be included in your grant application. Rest assured that NFSTC will coordinate your review team in compliance with NIJ solicitation criteria and our costs have been vetted through GSA.

Our goal is to provide convenient, high-quality services to help your laboratory manage caseloads and backlogs, allowing you to optimally serve your community. For more information, quotes and scheduling, please contact us at

Which portable light source and reagent reveal the most latent prints?

A study comparing the fingermark detection capabilities of laser and light-emitting diode (LED) light sources has just been released in the technology evaluations section of NFSTC’s website. The study, which examines the performance of three lasers and an LED light source with three chemical reagents, was also published in the latest issue of IAI’s Journal of Forensic Identification.

The light sources used in the study were Coherent TracER lasers operating at 460 nm, 532 nm and 577 nm and the Rofin Polilight Flare Plus LED operating at 505 nm. The three chemical reagents investigated for their ability to enhance latent prints under these light sources were indanedione, genipin and lawsone. Which light source and reagent combination revealed the most latent prints? Download the technology evaluation report to find out.

To download other reports, visit NFSTC’s Technology Evaluations main page, or jump directly to the Biology & DNA, Chemistry and Crime Scene Investigation pages.

This study was funded by NIJ through the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence operated by NFSTC.

Rapid Biological Screening Workshop presentations now available online

In October, the National Institute of Justice, in conjunction with the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), sponsored the Rapid Biological Screening Workshop. The event brought together a number of forensic experts to discuss methodologies for dramatically improving throughput of biological samples.

Topics included ultraviolet/visible (UV-VIS) spectrometric analysis; developmentally regulated gamma hemoglobin messenger RNA (mRNA) isoforms; rapid melt-based STR prescreening at the crime scene; multiplex single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) melting assays to quickly differentiate crime scene samples; and NetBio’s fully integrated Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment (ANDE) system.

Presentations and other materials for this unique workshop are now available free online through NFSTC’s Projects Portal by clicking here. In addition, a number of other workshops and presentations can be accessed through NFSTC’s online portal at