Joe Russell and Sophie Zaaijer share how their mobile lab will generate investigative leads quicker and benefit forensic analysts.
Travis: Good morning! Hi, I’m Travis. How are you?
Joe: I’m well.
Travis: And you are?
Joe: I’m Joe Russell from MRI Global.
Sophie: Sophie Zaaijer from F!ND Genomics
Travis: And what brought you here to ISHI this year? What products are you showcasing?
Joe: Well, it is a SNP-based human ID algorithm that Sophie has written. I’ll let you describe that.
Sophie: Yeah, we do Rapid DNA-based intelligence, but we specialize in human identification in near-real time, so we can identify an individual within around three minutes of DNA sequencing. We do exact matching, first-degree relative, second-degree relative, and also ancestry inferences. So that’s the F!ND Genomics part. So, we make it really on-site in collaboration with MRI Global, who made this device, the Centurion.
Joe: Yes, so it’s based off the minION nanopore sequencing platform, which is a small footprint sequencer, but the operational footprint expands. You have folding tables, and generators, and computers and all that stuff, so we’ve tried to design a mobile platform that is sort of a pack and go that can enable the workflow that Sophie’s designed for the nanopore.
Travis: Wow, so that mobility – where’s it going to end up? Who’s going to be using this?
Joe: Well, we’re hoping that’s going to be on-site forensics to solve sample backlog issues back at brick and mortar reference labs. If you’re able to generate information and intelligence on-site, determine which are the samples that you want to keep, that you want to do a deeper dive on, it just sort of helps, and saves time, and gives you investigative leads quicker, and hopefully better outcomes.
Travis: That’s fantastic.
Sophie: And I think the agility is very much. You have a lab where you can use the protocols that you need, like whatever DNA extraction that you require for your workflow for the specific samples you’re interested in, so with that you can apply it to the MinION and fix it up and we can do the identification for you as you see fit. So it’s a very agile platform.
Travis: So as a first time ISHI presenter, what drew you here?
Sophie: Human identification of course, is a central player in this meeting, and it’s fantastic and really inspiring to see all of the people working on this issue, and all of the solutions that are being presented here. And I think it’s really exciting to learn what people think about our solution and also to see how we fit into the forensic landscape. It’s been very fun to be here and to learn about that here at ISHI.
Travis: Are you going to be back for another ISHI?
Joe: Absolutely, yes.
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