AP NEWS

Iraqi forensic DNA scientists train at Marshall

May 19, 2019

HUNTINGTON - The Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program and Science Applications International Corp. earlier this month in Huntington to provide advanced DNA validation training to 18 forensic DNA scientists with the Republic of Iraq Ministry of Interior Criminal Evidence Directorate, including its director, Major General Talib Khalil Raahi.

The training was designed and conducted by Valerie Mattimore Fuller, a Department of Justice contractor and DNA expert, and included lecture and advanced practical laboratory exercises using the training facility at Marshall’s Forensic Science Center. The center boasts a state-of-the-art, functional DNA training laboratory offering the latest forensic DNA testing platforms and a computer lab equipped with full DNA analysis software, individualized software and learning workstations, as well as 24-hour on-call support staff.

This training was considered groundbreaking for the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program and the Science Applications International Corp.

“MUFSC was one of only a handful of U.S. venues capable of handling the technical needs of this one-week accelerated learning course,” Fuller said in a release. “Marshall University can now say that they have advanced the fight against global terrorism that affects Iraqis, Americans and us all.”

The course attendees included top Iraqi forensic DNA analysts/police, who have been doing this work since 2009 via their DNA reporting results and databasing efforts in Baghdad, Babil, Najaf and Al Hillah.

“I had worked onsite with Iraqi Ministry of Interior Criminal Evidence Directorate in Baghdad back in 2008-09, establishing their DNA testing capability,” Fuller said, “and now in 2019, the number of DNA analysts has grown into a group of frontline scientists, both men and women, who are DNA profiling captured ISIS fighters, terrorists and criminals. This course allowed them to up their game against crime and terrorism by providing them some recently developed, cutting-edge DNA mixture interpretation tools for better setting the standardized thresholds necessary for confident, high-quality, globally useful DNA database hits in this fight.”

“We value our partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior Criminal Evidence Directorate and are extremely pleased with the results for the DNA validation training presented in partnership with Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center,” said Gregory E. Ducot, acting director of the Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. “Sharing information, skills and best practices strengthens our shared goal of improved security. Forensic capacity development is particularly critical to improving investigations of transnational criminal and terrorist incidents.”

The training was a great opportunity for the Marshall Forensic Science Center, as well as the attendees, said MUFSC Director Jason Chute.

“Our own scientists enjoyed interacting and making a difference on an international level,” he said. “We hope to provide more trainings of this caliber in the future.”

In the past, the Marshall Forensic Science Center has provided international training to the countries of Mexico and Malaysia, whose citizens and scientists had partnering agreements in place for fighting crime with U.S. agencies.

The center was established in 1999 and recognized as a criminal justice agency by the state of West Virginia in 2016. It serves as a national and international resource for state and local criminal justice agencies.

For complete information about the center’s services and accreditation, including international standards, visit Forensics.Marshall.edu.

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