Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at Bowling Green State University

BGSU forensic science center part of study to field test drugs for opioids

From The ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CENTER FOR THE FUTURE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE AT BGSU Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Bowling Green State University President Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D. announced today that the Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at Bowling Green State University is part of a team that will conduct a study that could help Ohio authorities safely, quickly, and reliably field test drugs for the presence of opioids. The Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science (the Center) and Vuronyx Technologies are part of a partnership that today received a $200,000 grant as part of the Ohio Third Frontier’s Opioid Technology Challenge, an effort to find technology-based solutions to address or improve opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and overdose avoidance and response. The grant funds will be used to develop small, portable paper test cards that could be used by first responders, law enforcement agencies, medical professionals, and crime scene investigators in the field to quickly detect opioids and cutting agents in drug samples. The Center will conduct a study to validate the results of the test cards using control substance standards alone and in the presence of cutting agents at various concentrations. “Right now, we discourage local agencies from field testing drugs because opioids are just so dangerous, but we are excited about the prospect of helping to develop this new technology,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The goal is to help local authorities quickly determine what type of drugs they’ve encountered while limiting the chance for an accidental exposure.” “As a public University, we’re committed to helping address the critical societal issues facing the state,” said President Rogers. “This is a great example of the real-world, applicable research the center is doing to aid law enforcement.” “We welcome this opportunity to partner with Vuronyx to develop this rapid opioid detection technology,” added Dr. Jon Sprague, Director of the Center. More information on the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge can be found here.


BGSU, BCI researchers team up to analyze sex assault evidence

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A paper published in a leading journal offers way to make the assessment of sexual assault kits more efficient. That could lead to more perpetrators bein identified and held accountable. The scholarly paper published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences late last year was the combined effort of the Ohio Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at Bowling Green State University and the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The work was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Jon Sprague, director of the BGSU Center, said the foundation has a long standing interest in applying statistical methods to criminal justice and forensics science issues. The study, conducted at the BCI lab on campus, looked at the 14,000 sexual assault kits collected through the Attorney General Mike DeWine’s initiative that was launched in 2011. That initiative aimed to process sexual assault kits, known as SAKs, which had been collected in evidence rooms around the state. The BGSU project brought together a team from across the state to look at those 14,000 kits in the BCI database. Jaime Kerka, from the BCI lab in Ridgefield, was tasked with data mining, digging down into the numbers. She ended up compiling a spreadsheet with 3 million cells, Sprague said. That enabled the team to analyze what was in the kits. “What was significant was the application of statistics to the evidence,” Sprague said. That looked at a multitude of characteristics recorded by the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) during the initial examination of the victim. That would include evidence collected from swabs from various parts of the body, vagina, anal, ear, neck, as well as samples from clothing, including underwear.  “This can guide people where to you want to start and speed up the process and reduce cost,” Sprague said. The goal is to get DNA that’s eligible to be entered into the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Data from 2,500 of the kits were studied to see the likelihood that they would yield usable DNA samples. The researchers made some important findings about how to do that, some of which confirmed what was already assumed. The seven recommendations made were: The sooner a sample is collected the better. The more time that elapses the probability of getting a CODIS eligible sample decreases. SAKs should go to a forensic lab as soon as possible. Kits not sent immediately to a forensics lab should be stored according to established procedures to preserve the sample. Areas of the body where the attack occurred should be tested first. If no specific areas are identified, vaginal swabs, tests of the crotch area of underwear, and skin tests from ear and neck are most likely to yield useful samples. The latter, Sprague said, was a surprise. Tests of other areas, lip, hairs, fingernails, and mouth, yield usable samples less often. If reports indicate multiple tests of the samples yielding the same DNA profile, those tests need not be done. “This will help eliminate, repetitive testing,” the paper stated. DNA from any partner with whom the victim has had consensual sex should be collected. While that seems to go against the belief that a victim’s previous sexual history is not relevant to an investigation, it is important so that…