DNA Exclusion Database: Anonymous, Secure and Searchable

The Hague, 4 September 2018: ICMP hosted a workshop at its headquarters in The Hague today examining strategies for developing and using a Manufacturers’ Exclusion Database (MED) for companies working in the field of forensic science.

ICMP created a searchable MED, in cooperation with the European Network of Forensic Science institutes (ENFSI) and DNA consumable manufacturers, in 2014, and makes this accessible to DNA consumable manufacturers and DNA laboratories, allowing them to detect external contaminants coming from the forensic analysis supply chain. The MED provides forensic laboratories and police investigators with an anonymous, secure and searchable online database of DNA profiles to search for contaminations originating with manufacturers or otherwise detected in DNA laboratories.

Ingo Bastisch, Head of the DNA laboratory at the German Bundeskriminalamt, spoke at today’s workshop about the necessary role of the MED from the standpoint of the forensic user community. ICMP Director of Policy and Cooperation Andreas Kleiser explained the legal background, and ICMP Director of Science and Technology Thomas Parsons discussed the scientific concept. ICMP’s Senior Database Software Developer Muris Pucic demonstrated practical applications of the MED, and ENFSI Chair Sander Kneppers summed up key themes that were addressed during the day-long workshop, including community-wide quality assurance, data protection, and optimal search criteria.

Since it launched a DNA-led human identification program in 2001, ICMP has become a world leader in this field, and has developed productive relationships with public and commercial agencies engaged in forensic science. The need for a manufacturers’ DNA exclusion database was highlighted in 2009 when police in Germany believed they were on the trail of a “phantom serial killer” after one individual’s DNA was connected to 40 crimes. After a massive hunt for the perpetrator, the forensic match was found to originate in the cotton swabs used to collect DNA samples. The exclusion database addresses this type of contamination.

ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with headquarters in The Hague. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons. ICMP has been working in Iraq since 2003.