Michael Baird talks about the first DNA court cases.
Well 25 years ago, it was a lot different than it is today. There were fewer companies that were doing DNA testing. The company I was with then (Lifecodes Corporation) was one of the major commercial companies doing forensic testing as well as paternity.
When I started at Lifecodes in 1982, one of the charges was to develop DNA testing for identification. At that time there wasn’t anything. Most scientists realized that DNA was unique, but whether or not you could tease out those differences between people or not remained to be seen.
Having testified in the first case that involved DNA technology, I can say it was scary. Being an academic going into this, I didn’t really know what to expect. This is before CSI. Before people kind of took DNA for granted. Every case that we did early on was really one that generated a lot of media attention. There was generally someone there following the case. When DNA testimony came on they were recording it. They were asking questions afterwards. It was pretty intense.
When I first got involved with DNA testing, it was the old-fashioned methodology called RFLP testing. That’s not done anymore. That’s been replaced by PCR analysis using different markers. That was really a game-changer in terms of what you could do; what kind of samples you could test, what kind of results you could get.
I think now we’re looking at expanding even beyond that kind of testing – the STR testing. Looking at methodologies using sequencing technology. Using SNP technology. I think that is going to play a big role in forensics going forward.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS? SUBSCRIBE TO THE ISHI BLOG BELOW!