Mr. Mittelman, Othram’s CEO, said his company had received more than $400,000 from philanthropic donors. According to Crunchbase, the start-up has also raised $28.5 million from institutional investors to conquer the market around this new research technique. The company, founded in The Woodlands, Texas, in 2018, now has 30 employees, Mr. Mittelman said, including five full-time genealogy researchers, and will soon move to a new building, with a lab four times the size of its current one. . †

Othram’s pitch is simple: Government labs don’t have the expensive equipment needed to process DNA evidence — cigarette butts, blood-stained tissue, bone — that could be decades old, degraded or mixed with non-human materials. For now, private labs must do the work of creating genetic profiles that are compatible with those that are much more easily generated from a consumer’s saliva. Then forensic genetic genealogists have to do the time-consuming work of sifting through second cousins ​​and population data. Finally, another DNA test is usually required to confirm a suspected match.

Othram wants to be the point of contact for the government for the entire process. “Once they see it, they never go back,” Mittelman said.

The company created a site called DNASolves to tell the stories of heinous crimes and tragic John and Jane Does — with catchy names like “Christmas tree lady” and “angel baby” — to encourage people to fund budgetary police services so they can can hire Othram. A competitor, Parabon NanoLabs, had created a similar site called JusticeDrive, which has raised about $30,000.

In addition to money, Othram encouraged supporters to donate their DNA, a request that some critics called inappropriate and said donors should contribute to databases easily accessible to all researchers.

“Some people are too nervous to put their DNA into a general database,” said Mr Mittelman, who declined to say how large his database is. “Ours is purpose-built for law enforcement.”

Carla Davis donated her DNA, as well as that of her daughter and son-in-law. Her husband refused.

This post Philanthropists push police investigations into DNA databases

was original published at “https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/27/technology/dna-tests-crime-solving.html”

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