Rutgers Office for Research signs license to market DNA analysis technology

Rutgers University‘s Office for Research recently signed an exclusive license with SoftGenetics LLC for the company to commercialize innovative software technology developed by Rutgers-Camden professors Catherine Grgicak and Desmond Lun. The technology, called NOCIt, is a computational tool that calculates the probability of the number of contributors in a DNA profile.

“One of the challenges that forensic crime laboratories have is estimating the number of contributors, which is required before they take the next step: calculating the weight of evidence against the suspect,” Grgicak said. “Many labs are still estimating that number of contributors manually. What Desmond and I and our team developed is software that estimates the number of contributors quantitatively. We use as much of the information as is available to estimate that number of contributors.”

Lun added: “The results from NOCIt provide the probability for how many contributors exist in a sample. For example, it could say there is 60% probability that there are three contributors, 20% probability there are two contributors and 20% probability there is one contributor. But it does so by considering multiple data points, thereby removing as much of the human factor as possible. I think we all would want to know that the evidence that is being presented at a trial is being handled and analyzed in a consistent way, and the results are not dependent on some subjective judgments that could have significant effect on what gets reported.”

Accurately assessing the number of contributors, or NOC, in DNA samples is vital in forensic analysis.

The collaboration between Grgicak and Lun was born in Boston; she was an assistant professor at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and he had just completed similar work in the Medard Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their NOCIt technology, which they began working on together in 2011 while she was at BU and he was an associate professor at Rutgers-Camden, has the potential to streamline and improve the forensic DNA analysis process.

SoftGenetics, which has over 20 years of experience developing and supporting DNA analysis software to aid the forensic community, is excited to add the technology to its wide variety of genetic analysis software for both clinical and forensic applications, according to Director of Marketing & Product Management in Forensics & Fragment Analysis Teresa Snyder-Leiby.

The Office for Research handled the negotiation and execution of the license.

“The technology developed by Catherine and Desmond has the potential to improve the DNA analysis process not only in the United States but also around the world, and we are proud to have worked with them to license it to SoftGenetics,” Deborah Perez Fernandez, acting executive director for innovation ventures, said.