EKU professor working on device to speed up DNA sample turnaround time

EKU professor working on device to speed up DNA sample turnaround time
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - An Eastern Kentucky University forensic science professor says he’s on the cusp of inventing a device that will speed up the turnaround time for DNA samples.

With police agencies across the country dealing with a backlog of thousands of sexual assault kits untested, will this invention help?

Eastern Kentucky University’s Director of Forensics Science Dr. Jamie Fredericks said he’s about three to six months away from an invention that could decrease the DNA sample turnaround. If successful, he says it could save precious time helping police catch their suspect.

DNA samples can put a person at the scene of a crime. Dr. Fredericks hopes he can put the pieces to the crime puzzle faster.

“This is not only to help the families involved but also if you don’t want to have the perpetrator on the loose committing additional crimes,” Fredericks said.

The actual device hasn’t been fully developed, but Dr. Fredericks says the device they are testing is like a cotton swab, focused on extracting biological fluids.

His students are also learning the basics of DNA extraction. One of those students will be credited with assisting in the invention. Dr. Fredericks says this faster process will help police agencies across the country decrease a massive backlog of untested sexual assault kits.

“I love helping the community and I think forensic science helps in just that way,” Fredericks said. “You know you’re trying to help the community by solving crimes.”

Dr. Fredericks says his next project will focus on extracting touch DNA like skin cells. Fredericks worked with crime scene investigation in South Africa before working at EKU.