NMDPS Forensic Laboratories Bureau
Biology Unit: Serology / DNA
The Biology unit analyzes biological fluids and materials submitted as evidence from crimes committed throughout the state of New Mexico. Typical crimes encountered include, but are not limited to, property crimes, sexual assaults, homicides, and other violent crimes.
The Biology unit, in addition to the ASCLD/LAB accreditation of the forensic laboratory, maintains accreditation under the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standard for DNA Testing Laboratories. The section has been conducting forensic serology / DNA analysis since 1993.
Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
DNA analysts compare a DNA profile generated from an item of evidence to a DNA profile from a known individual. In cases in which there is no known perpetrator, the evidentiary DNA profile may be searched in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System). CODIS is the FBI’s national DNA database, which houses DNA profiles generated from crime scene samples, arrestees, and convicted offenders, among others. CODIS blends forensic science and computer technology into an effective tool for solving crimes by enabling federal, state, and local laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to arrestee/convicted offenders.
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology and forensic serological techniques, perpetrators and other individuals are routinely identified from minute amounts of human biological material. Types of services provided by the NMDPS Biology section include autosomal STR testing (traditional DNA analysis), male Y-STR DNA testing, criminal paternity, and cold cases. Analysts are tasked with identifying the biological fluid present on an item of evidence (blood, semen, or saliva) and determining who is or is not the source of the fluid. An increasing trend in investigations is the utilization of “touch DNA” testing for crimes without biological fluid evidence.
- Before items of biological evidence can be submitted to the laboratory for testing, agencies must first obtain a DNA acceptance code by discussing the specifics of the case with a DNA analyst. Only items of evidence listed on the DNA acceptance code will be accepted for submission.
- Types of items not accepted by the laboratory include liquid body fluids and syringes containing needles.