Workshops Announced for ISHI 35

The ISHI conference agenda includes a diverse range of workshops focusing on forensic DNA analysis. Topics cover AABB accreditation, implementation of Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG) in public labs, DNA interpretation methods, genetic identification of bone remains, and human factors in forensic DNA interpretation. There are also sessions on building the forensic scientist pipeline, probabilistic genotyping, navigating forensic science in media and legal decision-making, and more. These workshops are designed for professionals seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge in various aspects of forensic DNA technology.



On Sunday, three full-day workshops will be offered. The first, “Bringing FGG into the Publicly Accredited Laboratory – Considerations from Validation to Implementation”, is focused on the challenges and strategies involved in implementing Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG) into a public laboratory. It will discuss the validation, accreditation, and implementation processes, examining different approaches for FGG, such as SNP genotyping, and their respective benefits and limitations. The workshop is designed for DNA analysts, supervisors, technical leaders, as well as attorneys and judges, and will be led by experts in the field.


The workshop “Beyond the ‘Who Done It…’ – DNA Interpretation Given Activity Level Propositions” addresses the interpretation of DNA evidence in relation to activity level propositions. It focuses on how to approach and testify about DNA evidence in court, using a scientifically sound framework. The workshop aims to teach participants how to assign likelihood ratios for DNA evidence, use Bayesian networks for probability assignment, and handle hypothetical court questions. It’s designed for practitioners who testify in court and anyone interested in forensic DNA analysis.


The workshop “Identificación Genética de Restos Oseos de Víctimas” will be held in Spanish and focuses on the genetic identification of bone remains from victims in mass disasters or armed conflicts, and the comparison of these remains with biological samples from relatives. It covers the use of LIMS systems for managing sample information, the evaluation of genetic profiles using capillary electrophoresis and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), and the use of statistical software like Familias and M-FISys. The workshop aims to provide an understanding of laboratory information management, technical aspects of bone remains analysis, and the application of new technologies like NGS in complex samples. It is intended for those interested in the analysis of complex samples like bone remains, new technologies, LIMS systems, and genetic databases.


New this year, we’ll also be offering time specifically for those responsible for training in the lab to meet. More detail will be forthcoming.


Four full-day workshops will be offered on Monday. The first, “A Summary of the Recommendations made by the NIST/NIJ Expert Working Group on Human Factors in Forensic DNA Interpretation” focuses on the impact of human factors in forensic DNA interpretation. It includes discussions on management, quality assurance/control, education, training, and technology in forensic DNA labs. The workshop aims to provide in-depth knowledge of the working group’s recommendations, understanding their implications, and practical tools for positive error culture and bias mitigation in DNA labs. It is suitable for DNA analysts, forensic practitioners, and related professionals.


Also on Monday is “Designing and Building the Forensic Scientist Pipeline: From Academic Instruction and Outreach to Hiring, Onboarding, Training, and Mentorship”. This workshop addresses the end-to-end process of developing forensic scientists. It covers academic instruction, outreach, hiring, onboarding, training, and mentorship. The workshop aims to create a proactive approach for recruiting and nurturing talent in forensic labs, focusing on building a robust pipeline from academic settings to professional environments. It includes interactive sessions, discussions, and exercises led by experienced faculty. This workshop is ideal for technical leaders, trainers, and managers in the DNA laboratory field.


The workshop “Supporting Your Laboratory During Probabilistic Genotyping Implementation: from Validation to Admissibility” focuses on adopting probabilistic genotyping methods for DNA mixture interpretation in forensic labs. It discusses guidance from various organizations and covers internal validation recommendations, experimental design, and common challenges. The workshop aims to provide strategies for new guidelines and preparation for admissibility hearings for probabilistic genotyping software. It is intended for DNA analysts, supervisors, technical leaders, attorneys, and judges.


Finally, the workshop “From Lab to Verdict: Navigating the Intersection of Forensic Science, Media, and Legal Decision-Making” examines the impact of DNA expert testimony on jury perception and verdicts. It features a panel of scientists, lawyers, and judges discussing how DNA is presented in court, its effect on juries, and the influence of media and genetic testing on potential jurors. The workshop aims to familiarize attendees with jury perceptions of DNA testing, the impact of scientific language in testimony, and the perspectives of different participants in a jury trial. It’s suitable for scientists, lawyers, judges, and those new to this field.


On Thursday afternoon, we’ll offer three half-day workshops in addition to the Technical Leader’s Meeting. The workshop “Expert Witness Testimony and FIGG” focuses on preparing forensic analysts and genealogists for testifying in cases involving Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). It addresses the challenges and considerations of providing expert testimony in this evolving field. The session includes lectures, a mock case, and practical experience in testifying, aiming to enhance the skills of attendees in both foundational aspects of expert testimony and specific legal considerations for FIGG and NGS.


Next, “Practical FIGG Casework Bioinformatics for the Forensic Practitioner” aims to enhance understanding of whole genome Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) SNP data processing. It bridges the gap between operational criminalistics laboratories and bioinformatics. Participants will gain hands-on experience using publicly available tools for processing raw sequence data, alignment, variant calling, and generating GEDmatch Pro reports. The workshop is designed for analysts, technical leaders, and management involved in FIGG programs and is suitable for beginners.


Finally, the workshop “Engaging Collaboration: How to Further Cold Cases with Advanced DNA Approaches” discusses collaborating across different agencies and departments to advance cold case investigations using DNA methods. It covers traditional STR/Mito CODIS, RapidDNA, and Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG). The workshop highlights the importance of coordination between law enforcement, medical examiners, forensic labs, and the public, focusing on ethical and legal boundaries. Key learning outcomes include engaging stakeholders, conducting Missing Persons Day Events and DNA Drives, educating on advanced DNA methods, and applying these methods in disaster victim identifications.


Costs and specifics for each workshop can be found on our agenda page. Workshop space is limited, so don’t procrastinate if you hope to secure a place.