Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $265,084)
The Regional Forensic Science Center (RFSC) is a department within the Sedgwick County Division of Public Safety that provides forensic services to the city of Wichita, Kansas and surrounding cities within Sedgwick County. The RFSC houses the Office of the District Coroner and Forensic Science Laboratories.
The DNA laboratory has accumulated a backlog over the past two years due to qualified scientist promotions, time dedicated to scientists in training, and ongoing validation projects. With newer scientists completing training, the laboratory has been able to conduct screening on all sexual assault cases and move them into the queue for DNA analysis, thus creating a shift in workflow bottleneck and an increased awareness of supply costs associated with the additional analysts. The goal of this project is allocation of funding for required equipment and supplies so the identified positive sexual assault samples, and other cases awaiting analysis, may be processed and uploaded to CODIS whenever eligible. Increasing expenses associated with added positions, newly validated robotics kits/consumables, and inflation due to supply chain shortages are addressed within the scope of this project proposal. As in years past, budget shortfalls county-wide present the laboratory with challenges related to the continuation of maintenance agreements on critical software necessary to carry out probabilistic genotyping and DNA extraction, quantification, and PCR profiling. The laboratory currently owns STRmix licenses and numerous automated instruments which will require ongoing preventative maintenance and service agreements; this proposal addresses those needs for year 2024. Finally, strives to routinely replace and update equipment and continually seeks to provide professional growth opportunities to DNA scientists. This project will allow the replacement of old centrifuge equipment and rotors, and afford off-site training conference opportunities to DNA analysts.
The goal of this project is to enhance laboratory services by best utilizing fully qualified staff and robotic instrumentation to enhance the analytical capacity of the laboratory, increase throughput, and ultimately lower the backlog that has accumulated over the past two years. This includes proper operational and preventative maintenance of instrumentation, acquisition of new lab equipment as needed, and the addition of supplies commensurate with the added staff and robotic capacity needed to carry out the testing. Recognizing that continuing education fosters innovation, this proposal requests funding for training opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. These objectives will collectively result in faster turn-around times and an overall decrease in the accumulated backlog.