SWGDAM Notice on QAS Educational Requirements

Source: Anthony J. Onorato, SWGDAM Chair

The Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) would like to announce the following Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) for forensic DNA laboratories. This educational information is being provided for any student that is considering employment or contract employment in a forensic DNA laboratory in the United States.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) QAS for Forensic DNA Laboratories and QAS for DNA Databasing Laboratories place specific requirements on DNA laboratories as required by the DNA Identification Act of 1994.1,2 These standards were revised and the latest versions became effective July 1, 2020. The minimum educational requirement in Standard 5.4.1 is of special consideration for anyone seeking employment as an analyst in a forensic DNA or DNA databasing laboratory. The standards require four specific courses: (1) Biochemistry, (2) Genetics, (3) Molecular Biology, and (4) Statistics or Population Genetics. While it is expected that these courses cover the material listed in the supplemental Guidance Document as described under Forensic Standards 5.2.1.2 and 5.2.1.3; if a course is NOT titled as listed above, the prospective employee must have and provide to prospective employers substantive documentation (e.g., pertinent materials, such as a syllabus, letter from the instructor, or other document that supports the course content) that the specific subject area is the integral component of any course(s) used for compliance with the standard.3

For more information, the standards documents and the guidance document mentioned above are available on the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) website at https://le.fbi.gov/science-and-lab-resources/biometrics-and-fingerprints/codis.

If any clarification or assistance is needed, feel free to send correspondence to: QAS@fbi.gov.

References:

Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories — FBI 2 Quality Assurance Standards for DNA Databasing Laboratories — FBI 3 Guidance Document for Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing and DNA Databasing Laboratories — FBI

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