Technological Considerations for Responsibly Implementing a Forensic Genetic Genealogy Workflow with NGS

Thursday September 16th, 2021 // 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

In-Person Early Registration $190.00
In-Person Standard Registration$210.00
Virtual Registration$125.00

Fee includes lunch and materials. We encourage early registration and will be waiving cancelation penalties for 2021.


Forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) is a powerful tool for investigative lead generation for the identification of unknown remains, solving cold cases, and innocence projects. The FGG workflow combines a DNA profile generated using microarrays, whole genome sequencing (WGS) and/or targeted SNP sequencing methodologies with a database like GEDmatch PRO to identify genetic relatives and finally performing confirmatory testing with traditional STR assays. These data generation methods face inherent challenges typing SNPs across forensic samples such as skeletal remains (bones and teeth), sexual assault evidence and other body fluids which are frequently degraded, inhibited, and low input. The choice of data generation technologies, in turn, have implications for kinship outcomes.

In this workshop a multidisciplinary panel of forensic scientists, criminalists and genetic genealogists will:

  1. Summarize the landscape of technology options, the advantages and the limitations of each.
  2. Present a comprehensive evalaution of real-world data generated with whole genome sequencing (WGS), microarray, and targeted sequencing workflows along with guidance on how labs can leverage sample source, quality and quantity to make data-driven technology decisions.
  3. Deconstruct targeted sequencing approaches and how they minimize genetic data privacy challenges, thereby enabling responsible usage of this game changing application.
  4. Cover underlying statistical assumptions, requirements, and interpretation of physical segment-based associations and model-free approaches.
  5. Compare kinship results from different data generation methodologies and matched kinship tools.
  6. Share implementation blueprints from labs that have evaluated and implemented targeted sequencing FGG workflows for case-work samples.*Instructional handouts, data evaluations and case studies will be made available.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand the end to end investigative and confirmatory testing workflow, and opportunities to minimize privacy and legal concerns
  2. Advantages & limitations of microarray, WGS and targeted SNP sequencing for FGG based on comprehensive technology evaluations
  3. Data driven decision trees that leverage casework sample source, quality and quantity, as well as marker content to qualify and guide forensic laboratories on to technology decisions
  4. Practical Genealogy: Common genealogy tools, how they work, and when to use them
  5. Case studies on real-world outcomes leveraging WGS, microarray and targeted SNP generation approaches, and matched kinship tool analysis for genealogy
  6. A blueprint for implementing and an investigative (FGG) and confirmatory testing (STR) workflow at scale in operational crime labs

Intended Audience:

  • Criminalists
  • Forensics Scientists
  • Genealogists
  • Low enforcement professionals


Swathi KumarChair

Director, Product Management, Verogen Inc

Swathi A. Kumar, PhD, leads Verogens global product strategy. Prior to Verogen, she spent 8 years at Illumina, the global NGS/MPS market and technology leader, in technical, sales and product management roles.

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Frederick Bieber

Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University

Frederick R. Bieber is a member of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University. His academic work focuses on the laboratory and statistical aspects of DNA-based human identification, with a focus on kinship analysis and its attendant legal, ethical, and policy implications.

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Colleen Fitzpatrick

President and Founder of Identifinders International

Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD, the President and Founder of Identifinders International LLC, is widely recognized as the founder of modern Forensic Genealogy.  She has worked over two hundred cold case violent crimes and Doe cases for dozens of law enforcement agencies using genetic genealogy analysis.  Most notably, she is credited with solving the 1991 Sarah Yarborough homicide, the first case ever that used genetic genealogy to generate investigative leads (2011).

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Danny Hellwig

Intermountain Forensics Laboratory

Armed with a black belt certification in Lean/Six Sigma process improvement and extensive experience in both quality and operational leadership, he provides executive direction and oversees the quality system of the Intermountain Forensics laboratory.

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