Forensic DNA: The Beginning of the SNP Era

Forensic DNA: The Beginning of the SNP Era


The field of forensics is constantly evolving. While short tandem repeats (STRs) are currently used in all forensic DNA laboratories for human identification, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have emerged as new markers of interest. These new markers present several benefits, including the ability to analyze smaller DNA fragments, the ancestral and phenotypic information they may carry, and the ability to distinguish STRs of the same size. New technologies for genotyping SNPs have been developed in the recent years, and they will continue to advance for many years to come.

This webinar series will dive into using SNPs for forensic applications and discuss recent advances in the field. Topics will include using SNPs for human identification, ancestry prediction, pigmentation, and craniofacial morphology, microhaplotypes for forensic applications, and methylation for age prediction.

Collaborators and Funding

Forensic DNA: The Beginning of the SNP Era is brought to you by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence in collaboration with George Washington University (GW), under key personnel Dr. Daniele Podini.

Dr. Podini is a forensic DNA expert whose current research focuses on microhaplotypes (clusters of SNPs) and on the use of next generation technologies for human identification purposes. His forensic experience ranges from processing crime scenes for biological specimens to processing evidence in the laboratory, and from DNA profiling to testifying in court as an expert witness. Dr. Podini has been on the faculty of the Department of Forensic Sciences at GW since 2004. He is also a member the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the International Society of Forensic Genetics, and serves as a member of the Subcommittee on DNA Analysis 1 of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) to aid efforts in strengthening forensic sciences in the United States.

Summary Report

This report summarizes the content of the 2017-2018 5-part webinar series, as well as the reception of the series by the forensics community. The project team made surveys available to all participants immediately following each webinar to obtain data metrics to assess the quality and impact of discussion content, and to gain information on the structure of the web audience.


The Evolution of SNPs as a Forensic Marker
Presenters: Kenneth Kidd, Chris Phillips & Tom Parsons

Predict Human Appearance From DNA Focusing on Pigmentation
Presenters: Manfred Kayser & Susan Walsh

DNA Methylation-Based Age Prediction & Body Fluid ID
Presenters: Dr. Athina Vidaki & Dr. Hwan Young Lee

Investigative DNA Testing Implementation
Presenters: Dr. Katherine Gettings, Maretta Chace & Dr. Runa Daniel

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence webinar series has been provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webinar series are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contact us at with any questions and subscribe to our newsletter for notifications.

Related Content

DNA Recovery After Sequential Processing of Latent Fingerprints on Black Polyethylene Plastic

Publication Journal of Forensic Sciences, February 2024  Authors Abigail S. Bathrick | Bode Technology Sarah Norsworthy | RTI International Dane T. Plaza | Bode Technology Mallory N. McCormick | United States Secret Service Donia Slack | RTI International Robert S. Ramotowski | United States Secret Service …

Success Story: NIJ and The New York City OCME Validating Confirmatory Body Fluid Identification Assays for Real-World Impact

National Institute of Justice and The New York City OCME Date December 2023 Overview Support from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) enabled the New York City OCME to develop and validate proteomic mass spectrometry body fluid assays to support…

What Medical Examiner’s and Coroner’s Offices Should Know about Molecular Autopsy

Date December 2023 Overview A molecular autopsy consists of “postmortem genetic testing of decedents who died naturally, suddenly, and unexpectedly at young ages.” Molecular autopsies can enable a more accurate determination of cause of death in cases where the scene…