DNA identification of Sept. 11 victims continues

Techniques developed after attacks detailed at American Chemical Society meeting

Ivan Oransky(ioransky@the-scientist.com)
Sep 8, 2003

NEW YORK—Two years after the attacks on the World Trade Center here, forensic biologists have identified more than half of the 2782 victims' remains, a member of the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) said at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society this week. In the process, they have been forced to come up with new strategies to analyze heavily degraded DNA.

Noelle Umback, a forensic DNA analyst in the OCME's department of forensic biology, said that as of last week, the team had identified 1524, or 54%, of those missing. Of those, 785 were by DNA only, and 219 were by other methods such as dental records or fingerprints. The remainder were identified by a combination of methods or, in some cases, identification by family members. She said that 7857 of about 20,000 recovered remains—ranging from whole bodies to single teeth—had been identified, with...

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