DNA Identification System
ICMP maintains a high throughput DNA identity testing system dedicated to identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflict, human rights abuses, disasters and other circumstances around the world.
ICMP’s DNA identification system relies on integrated DNA testing laboratories, which ICMP currently maintains in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The DNA laboratories have a highly developed capacity to obtain DNA profiles from very difficult cases of unidentified human remains, such as bone samples from decades-old mass graves. ICMP has conducted the world’s largest missing persons DNA testing program, having successfully tested more than 50,000 bone samples and established a database of almost 100,000 family reference DNA profiles to support the identification of almost 20,000 missing persons.
ICMP uses nuclear autosomal STR testing in its large scale DNA testing, as well as Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA testing when this is necessary to finalize identifications.
The basis for DNA identifications is to match DNA profiles from unidentified human remains to DNA profiles from family members of the missing. Large databases of DNA profiles from the missing and the families are compared using ICMP’s specialized database software. A “DNA match” means that a set of human remains have been identified by matching the genetic profile of the remains to those of family relatives at a very high rate of statistical surety.
ICMP’s DNA identification system has been used to support identification projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chile, Cyprus, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, the United States, Canada, Norway, Cameroon, Greece and South Africa.
DNA Processing Capacity
Because of its specialized expertise and ability to test large numbers of difficult samples from human remains, the ICMP DNA Laboratory System offers a globally accessible resource for DNA testing. ICMP is able to provide DNA testing assistance on large-scale projects, involving thousands of cases, and it is able to conduct DNA testing quickly. For example, ICMP’s routine standing capacity for DNA testing of bone samples is 55 per day, which can be doubled to 110 per day if required.
The ICMP DNA Laboratory System is internationally accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 standards, recognized as being among the most demanding accreditation standards for forensic laboratories.
ICMP’s accreditation is a rigorous process involving multiple layers of external review by the accreditation agency, spanning:
- ICMP Standard Operating Procedures;
- Forensic validation studies;
- Formal staff training programs;
- Institutional management structure; and
- ICMP overarching Quality Management System.
Included in the accreditation agency’s oversight are annual audits of ICMP’s DNA Identification System facilities, in addition to technical audits of staff during the conduct of DNA testing according to validated standard operating procedures.