Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $347,033)
The Forensic Biology Unit (FBU) faces challenges, especially with increased demand of its casework services. The FBU services the County of Alameda, not including the city of Oakland; this area represents a population of approximately 1,200,000 people. The FBU as well as its customers will benefit from the proposed project as the FBU continues to 1) modernize the laboratory; 2) increase casework capacity; and 3) monitor for efficiency improvements.
The purpose of this project is to increase sample capacity and casework turnaround time by supporting the FBU’s long term objective in implementing STRmix, a probabilistic genotyping software program, into its workflow. The primary activities of this proposal are to: outsource cases to reduce the current backlog; purchase reagents and consumable supplies and maintenance agreements for equipment and software; and, maintain support for an unfunded Validation/QC Scientist to conduct validation studies and implement into casework procedures and to conduct QC testing.
Three attainable goals are:
Goal 1: Outsource cases to reduce the backlog. Outsourcing of casework will significantly decrease turnaround times of submitted casework and the number of samples awaiting analysis which will allow FBU analysts to dedicate time to in-house casework and increase the overall capacity of the laboratory to process and report cases.
Goal 2: Provide reagents and supplies for casework, maintain support for mixture interpretation software, and continue equipment service that will reduce non-casework related duties for the analysts. Funding for critical reagents/supplies for casework, maintenance of software to streamline data analysis, and continued service for the temperature monitoring system will ensure maximum casework efficiency and capacity to reduce turnaround time.
Goal 3: Obtain funding for a dedicated Validation/QC Scientist focused on validation studies, implementation of casework procedures, quality control testing, and ongoing laboratory support for the FBU. This dedicated scientist will focus on conducting validation studies, implementing specialized software and other validated procedures, and performing QC tests to foster timely completion of project goals.
Achievement of these goals will reduce the current backlog and provide funds for casework reagents/supplies to maximize sample processing output, maintenance of software and equipment to streamline laboratory operations, and a dedicated scientist to implement procedures into casework and minimize non-casework related activities for the analysts. This approach will increase sample capacity and workflow efficiency that will have a long-term sustaining effect on decreased turnaround times for sample processing, data analysis, and case reporting.