Forensic science international. Genetics | 2019
Large scale DNA identification: The ICMP experience.
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is a treaty-based international organization with a global mandate to address the issue of missing persons. It works with governments, civil society organizations, and others, and utilizes data systems and technical assistance in forensic science. ICMP s initial work focused on the ∼40,000 people missing in the Western Balkans from the conflicts of the 1990s. A DNA-led approach to large-scale DNA identification of the missing was developed, based on high-throughput autosomal STR testing of skeletal remains from mass graves and other sites, and the establishment of a regional database of DNA profiles from family members of the missing. Database pairwise and pedigree kinship searching is conducted using in-house DNA matching software, the Identification Data Management System (iDMS), providing high-certainty DNA matches that are integrated in a multi-disciplinary identification process. Anthropological guidelines for sampling skeletal remains for DNA testing are based on tens of thousands of tests from a wide range of skeletal elements, allowing for prioritization based on DNA preservation. Large-scale collection of family reference samples has been conducted, resulting in a database of more than 100,000 family reference DNA profiles across all projects and delivering family DNA match reports for more than 20,000 individuals. From the 1995 Srebrenica event, ICMP provided DNA matches for 6887 of the ∼8000 missing from that event. In assistance to justice, ICMP has provided extensive evidence and expert testimony in multiple war crimes trials, including those conducted at the ICTY. This article provides an overview of ICMP s technical involvement over the last 17 years in areas of DNA testing and database matching, and training and capacity building projects with partners. It also touches on the development of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) strategies specifically tailored to missing persons applications.