Rapist Found 20 Years Later by DNA Test

DNA Test, Evidence

DNA Test, Evidence

A Dutch court is in the sentencing phase of a suspect linked by DNA to seven rapes and as many as 16 sexual assaults from 1995 to 2001. How was he caught? Gerald T was recently tried for a bike theft, and in the process of the arrest, was required to give a DNA sample. The sample was processed and uploaded to a database that found the matches to crimes some 20 years ago.

It was likely no surprise to Gerald T that he was going to be linked to the crimes when the DNA sample was taken. As told in an article from ndtv.com, more than 300 people were questioned in 1995-96 in the western city of Utrecht when there were “several assaults in the suburbs and around the university campus. At the time, the attacks triggered alarms forcing authorities to step up security measures amid one of the biggest manhunts ever organized in the city.”

Voluntary DNA test stations were set up and special male officers disguised as women were stationed in places of the greatest risk in an attempt to catch the man. It was not mentioned if Gerald T was one of the 300 questioned at the time, but he did not volunteer for a DNA test.

The attacks stopped, and the investigation was closed in 2001. It was only recently that Gerald was again asked to donate a DNA sample—but this time, it was not voluntary. He now faces a maximum 16-year jail term.

When making their case for mandatory DNA testing of all citizen’s, these are the real life drama’s that advocates point to. If more people in Utrecht were forced to give DNA samples in 1995, how any of the assaults could have been prevented? Utrecht is a city with a population of approximately 225,000 in 1995; it’s nearly inconceivable that all the men could be required to give a DNA samples. It’s a daunting concept when considering collecting DNA from most existing populations.

Can you imagine the day when a newborn’s DNA is collected at birth? This seems less overwhelming, although it will be decades before the database will be a real asset to solving crimes.

Today, many countries have programs to collect DNA from arrested individuals, and/or those imprisoned. The theory is that criminals are repeat offenders, and once collected two things can happen. One, their DNA can tie them to cold cases, and two, they are now less likely to commit future assaults if they know their DNA is “in the system.”

How do you feel about donating your DNA to a state, or federal database? Some argue—if you are ‘clean’, you have nothing to worry about! Some feel it is an invasion of personal privacy, and that the last place they want their DNA is with a government agency. What’s your opinion?


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Paternity Leave Policy Trends

some Proud Parents Holding Baby in the bedroom

Paternity Leave; Dad bond time

Mark Zuckerburg has the right idea. Shortly after he announced a new paternity leave policy for Facebook employees, he took the leave himself! He’s probably due to return to work soon, and while he’s been away, the media has embraced his story, with coverage and photo’s of him at the diaper station. It’s clear that he’s not only taking he leave for his family, but perhaps for all working families. Like his first baby (Facebook), he’s very much championing the philosophy of encouraging fathers to be home for the first weeks and months of a new baby’s life.

This wasn’t always the case, and remains the exception rather than the rule. Just a generation ago, the norm was a single income from Dad, and a life at home for Mom. She was to perform her maternal duties, at home, just like he was to perform his, at work. He worked, she didn’t (or so we said).

The very reality of “work” that’s often associated with parental roles has changed dramatically in the last 100 years. The agrarian family mission was to create a workforce. It took a small village to keep the farm running; kids were a necessary part of the workforce, and heirs to the family farm.

Today, and for the foreseeable future, the agrarian lifestyle is gone. Two income families are becoming the norm, often drive by necessity of a mortgage and school tuition. But often too by choice, as more women graduate from universities looking for more—looking to join the workforce and compete alongside male graduates.

But women continue to fulfill the role of mom, and although family size may be on the decline, working and non-working women continue to have children. Working society that used to think dad needed a week at the most to check in at home and provide a little relief for mom is wondering if dad deserves more.

The movement to paternity leave is undeniable. A week in turning into a month, and the ultra-competitive San Jose crowd is competing over who can offer the longest time (up to a year) AND how much of the time is paid. Virgin Atlantic was the first to make headlines with their generous policy in June 2015, although since the announcement people have found it not to be less than advertised.

Here are a few policies as of January 1, 2016:

NETFLIX: Unlimited paid leave for the first year.

Facebook: Up to 4 months paid leave.

Yahoo: 16 weeks for mothers, 8 weeks for fathers.

Virgin Atlantic: Up to 52 weeks of paid leave (clarified here—few qualify)

As the US federal and state governments are the nations largest employers, it will be interesting where paternity policy for government employees goes in 2016. But the trend says it will be improving. Like most policies, however it may be lined with red tape. Perhaps a paternity test may be necessary to qualify? At the very least, a review of Maury shows might reveal some relevant history for those looking to stay home with newborns!


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Lauren Lake & Paternity Court

Family law

Paternity Court

The ratings for Paternity Court continue to climb, and DDC provides the DNA testing to Judge Lauren Lake for her to share with the families. The shows pack a hefty dose of background, emotion, and drama into 30 minutes. And Lake and her team have found a smart way to present the paternity case to the audience, and a growing audience for 3 years proves she’s going something right.

If you watch daytime television, you know that a lot of “judge” shows have come and gone. Each tries to spice up every day situations, but few succeed. It takes a balance of the litigants search for resolution, the right “cases”, and a judge that appeals to the audience. Apparently the viewing public likes all three for Paternity Court!

The shows are shot in Atlanta, where Lake resided until the late 1990’s. She now lives in Atlanta a few months out of the year to film several episodes a day, and 115 episodes per season.

The subject matter is the same—clearing up family relationships with DNA Paternity Testing—but the stories and the drama are unique every time. Which is why DNA Paternity testing seems to be such a winner on TV. Maury has risen to the top of daytime circuit for over a decade, and features DNA testing & drama nearly 3 days a week!

Lake has a unique way of preparing for a show. Rather than read all the details of a case, like she could (it’s given to her in a 4 page summary), she intentionally does not know all the history, and lets it unfold naturally. In his article “‘Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court,’ shot in Atlanta, keeps growing in its third season,” Rodney Ho describes her strategy.

“She is given a four-page summary of each case but she doesn’t read it thoroughly. Rather, she uses it as a point of reference. ‘My executive producer is always in my ear if there’s a point in the story they want me to address,’ she said. ‘My instinct is to research and read every single thing but [the executive producer David Armour] likes it better when I’m on a fact-finding mission on air… I have not made a pre-judgment and I don’t know the results ahead of time.'”

Lake added:

“Every case is a brand new family,” Lake said, in her robe, minutes before she started a shoot in July. “The energy I give is often a catalyst for them. I want them to understand their story is important. For many of them, this is the first time they are really telling their story. They had been arguing back and forth in this dysfunctional state of denial, shame and animosity.”

The drama is perfect for the TV audience, in that all the history is detailed in under 25 minutes, culminating in the DNA results. Therefore the audience is never left wondering—the results are in! The only thing left is to see the guests’ reactions, and they are real. Lake also reports back on former cases, to see how the guests are moving on with their new family dynamic.

If you like real drama in small doses, Paternity Court is for you.


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Paid Paternity Leave – Facebook CEO Takes the Leap

If you subscribe to Google Alerts, you might have noticed the recent storm of articles with the headline that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking two months paid paternity leave, of the four months now offered to both moms and dads by the social media giant. It’s being called a landmark move for the first millennial CEO to take the leave – a sign that the new generation puts a high premium on family life.

There’s no question that the movement to offer more paternity leave to employees has been on the rise. Most offer paid leave, and some offer unpaid leave as an option. A close look at those corporations stepping up to the plate on this offering seem to be those in the best financial position, and those with the best working environments, where ironically, men are not taking the leave as much as anticipated. Now companies seem to be trying to out-leave each other, with CreditSuisse the latest to raise the stakes, as reported in the Huffington Post.

I can’t seem to remember if my dad took leave when I was born. I’m not sure whether we bonded-I was only a few days old (we did later). I do know that he could not have done is his job from home, like so many professionals can do today. Even Mr. Zuckerberg can probably stay fairly well connected to his office if he chooses to, between late-night feedings and mid-day diaper changes.

Another advantage Mr. Zuckerberg has today is that he can spend some time during the day watching other paternity issues! He can catch some Maury, and find out the exciting conclusion to the latest paternity issues happening across the country. Or, he might catch Paternity Court, where Lauren Lake delivers DNA paternity results to those in TV court considering the custody of young children.

Which had me thinking. If I work for Facebook, and I find out one day that I’m the father of a 3-year-old boy from a former girlfriend, will I qualify for paid paternity leave if I want to bond with the lad?

The popularity of paternity leave for dad’s is hard to deny. For the family, it’s good for father, and for early bonding. Most mom’s would surely be in favor of the help/relief – especially if this isn’t the only child, and there’s more to manage than just the latest bundle of joy! So if you’re lucky enough to work for a provider of great benefits, including paternity leave, it’s time to get to work…so you can get off work.


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Genetic Tests – Ready for Public Consumption?

Unlocking the predictive elements in our DNA

Unlocking the predictive features in our DNA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent another round of letters to companies offering genetic tests, suggesting they didn’t have the “proper clearance” to sell these tests to the public. Concern remains over how tests are marketed, and whether the consumers are receiving reliable information.

The age of DNA testing is in front of us, there is no doubt. There are many companies attempting to unlock the mysteries of human DNA and provide meaningful health information to consumers. Part of the appeal is to be the first—and to develop proprietary tests or data interpretations.

One of the pillars of science is reproducibility. Can the test be performed by independent laboratories, producing the same result? In the case of companies taking consumers data and filtering it by scientists to reveal health “predictions,” they are perhaps reluctant to share their methods. Therefore the results are up for interpretation.

And there-in lies one of the two main issues. One, what is the proper oversight by a federal regulation team on cutting edge DNA interpretations, and two, how can the average consumer interpret the results if they are provided direct-to-consumer, cutting out the physician or health care provider? (then there is the question of whether the physician can even interpret the results.)

In his article “If You Paid $500 for a Gene Test, Would You Know What to Do With It?”, John Tozzi writes “DNA tests can reliably establish family ties, like paternity tests, or reveal a person’s ethnic heritage. They can also tell whether people are at risk for certain rare diseases like cystic fibrosis that are directly linked to genetic mutations, or for passing the risk on to their children. But when it comes to information relevant to people’s health, especially about common conditions like heart disease or diabetes, the value of genetics becomes much murkier.”

When 23andme was asked by the FDA to halt it’s sales of their genetic tests in 2013, it was partly due to the press they and other firms were generating as research articles exposed differences in the results of testing the same DNA. Each company was testing with their own proprietary data, and producing different results for the same person. This does not mean 23andme results were wrong—in fact, 23andme recently re-appeared with FDA approval on a limited set of genetic tests this year.

The number of approved genetic tests grows every year. Based on popular opinions, the results of such tests should continue to go through and not around physicians, who are there to help interpret the results and discuss the next steps. The other popular opinion is that we are still at the infancy DNA testing, and that the age of DNA testing is still in front of us.


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Tom Jones Getting DNA Test to See If He Has Black Heritage

Location South Africa. Green pin on the map.

DNA Tests tell an Ancestral Story

Tom Jones has announced he’s wondered all his life if he’s “part black,” and is going to seek out a DNA test to satisfy his curiosity. There are many tests on the market today, including AncestrybyDNA.com, that will tell a person if they have ancestors in population groups that include Sub Saharan Africa.

Thomas Jones Woodward was bon in South Wales, England. Now 75, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006. His musical career flourished in the 1960’s, including decades of performances in Las Vegas. His shows at Caesars Palace were known to include women throwing undergarments on stage—along with hotel keys!

Jones’s singing style developed from American soul music, with early influences from R&B and blues singers. He has always been perceived as having black roots. “A lot of people still think I am black. When I first came to America, people who had heard me sing on the radio would be surprised that I was white when they saw me,” Jones was quoted as saying.

This wouldn’t be the first DNA test for Tom Jones. Although married since 1957, at the height of his fame, Jones’s philandering was legendary. One affair resulted in the birth of a son after a brief relationship with model Katherine Berkery. A legal battle ensued, and DNA testing was included. In 1989 a U.S. court ruled that Jones was the boy’s father.

This time around, the “black heritage” test Jones is seeking falls into the “ancestry” category. There are a few labs that offer the testing, and look at a person’s heritage while man lived in clusters around the world. In the Ancestrybydna test, there are four distinct population groups: European, Indigenous American, East Asian, and Sub Saharan Africa. Each are represented by a percentage in a DNA Origins report.

We’ll keep a close eye on what Mr. Jones discovers. Many people find that their origins are exactly as expected, but it’s not unusual for people to unlock unexpected family revelations!


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DNA Diagnostics Center Discovers Rare Chimera Paternity Case

Human fetus

DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) was recently involved with a unique paternity case where the alleged father proved to be a chimera. A chimera is an individual whose tissues contain cells from a sibling due to a mixing of cells during gestation. Physical clues are often present, in the form of two-toned, patchy skin tones.

If two different eggs are fertilized with different sperm, and if each matures, they will ultimately produce twins.  In a chimera, early in gestation the cells from one of the twins fuses with the growing cells of the other twin resulting in only one viable embryo going forward. This embryo contains cells from both twins in a single individual. Not all tissues will be chimeric. Those tissues that are chimeric will contain DNA from both of the twins while those tissues that are not chimeric will contain DNA from only one of the twins.

The occurrence of chimerism is difficult to determine since it does not lead to adverse medical conditions. It is likely that all of us have DNA in some of our cells that differ by a few DNA letters in the 3 billion that are present in each cell. It is only when a sufficient number of cells in the germ line tissue (those that make sperm or eggs) are chimeric that paternity or maternity results can be affected. DDC considers chimerism in testing and requests appropriate tissue samples to clarify those cases.

The chimera alleged father presented the first chimera case involving germ line tissue seen by DDC in its 20 years. The cells in the sperm producing tissue of the alleged father were chimeric while the cells from the inside of his cheek, which are typically used for paternity testing, were not chimeric. As a result, the person was excluded as the biological father of a child when his buccal cell DNA was used and included when his sperm cell DNA was used.

Although chimerism in paternity is rare, DDC does incorporate chimera detection in its paternity testing process. To learn more, see the DDC website (dnacenter.com) for the posters on this chimera paternity case, co-authored by Dr. Michael Baird, Chief Science Officer at DDC, and presented this year (2015) at the American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting in Baltimore and at the International Symposium on Human Identification held in Dallas.

For media inquiries, please contact Jan Strode at 1-619-890-4040 or at press@dnacenter.com


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“It’s in our DNA!”

Is "IT" in your companies DNA?

Is “IT” in your companies DNA?

If a company had DNA, that is. When corporate leaders say “It’s in our DNA”, they’re really saying “It’s in the fabric, in the make-up of this company.”

We hear it in commercials and in slogans. It’s almost always described as a positive, although we know our DNA carries both the good and the not so good. Research is focused squarely on the genetic trouble-makers, trying to find the keys to our DNA that might unlock the mysteries of inherited disease and other genetic signals.

But let’s stick to the positive. Here are some of the latest big and small organizations that use DNA to describe their culture. With most companies, the reference describes an overriding philosophy.

  • Toyota loves to reference DNA, found in many corporate documents
    • The willingness to take on new challenges has been in Toyota’s DNA since it’s founding
    • You can’t become legendary overnight. And with that history in our DNA, it’s not wonder 90% of all the Toyota Corollas sold in the last ten years are still on the road today.
    • It’s in Toyota’s DNA that mistakes made once will not be repeated.
  • Steve Jobs, describing Apple
    • Our DNA is a consumer company—for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about.
  • Gucci’s Frida Giannini
    • I don’t want to be too ‘classic’ because it’s not in the DNA of Gucci. You need to be a little provocative.
  • The United States, as described by President Barack Obama
    • The president said while attitudes about race have improved significantly since he was born to a white mother and a black father, the legacy of slavery “casts a long shadow a that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on.”

Here are a few others on the bandwagon…

  • Samford University
    • Education is in our DNA
  • SeaMart Foods
    • The Spirit of Alaska is in our DNA 
  • San Jose Jazz Summer Fest
    • Latin Jazz in is our DNA
  • Milwaukeans, according to “edible Milwaukee
    • Outdoor drinking: you hear the phrase and your mind conjures sunshine, good company and cold ones. It’s practically in our DNA.
  • Georgia-Pacific Packaging (very busy DNA)
    • Sustainability. Customer Focus. Innovation. Quality. Value Creation. These are the strands in our DNA that set us apart.

Companies can create the messaging that ties DNA to corporate culture. As we know, companies are made up of individuals, all with unique DNA. Therein lies the real story—how is the real DNA of the company leaders influencing the culture? Is entrepreneurship in our DNA? Is creativity passed on in DNA? Can leadership be influenced by DNA?

The information in our DNA is impossible to quantify, and yet we are working every day to extract any glimmer of intel we can from it’s well of material. Just this month the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on research into how cells repair their DNA. Now the Noble Prize – there’s an award with prestige in it’s DNA!


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Smart Diets Based on DNA Testing

Can DNA testing better define healthy and unhealthy food?

Can DNA testing better define healthy and unhealthy food?

The field of study that can lead to smart diets based on DNA testing, and the unique DNA in each of us, is rapidly gaining momentum. Study’s have shown that we can be much smarter about the food we eat based on how our bodies process and metabolize food. That said, the facts are in front of every day, but we still tend to eat more for the satisfaction in our mind, and our taste buds, than we do for the health and well being of our total body.

One study of note points to the correlation of diet and genetics. The Inuit’s of Greenland, those most native to the country, were recently studied relative to the fish oil they consume in their diet, and the potential health benefits derived from their high fat consumption. They were compared to European and Chinese populations. It was found that even though the Inuit’s live in one of the most extreme environments on the planet, they have a lower risk of heart disease than many other people.

Why? It’s believed there is a connection between the Inuit’s DNA and protective effects from their high omega-3 diet. There are skeptics, who say all can benefit from the omega-3’s, regardless of their DNA profile. In the article “Is fish oil good for you? Depends on your DNA,” Elizabeth Pennisi explored the research of the Inuits by Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley. She also obtained comments from various geneticists.

One excerpt: “The results imply that people lacking Inuit DNA may not be getting the same protective effects from this substance, Nielsen says. More work clarifying the connection between high omega-3 and the Inuits’ heart health is needed, but this new work is a good start, adds geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, Seattle: “You can count on your fingers where we have a pretty good idea of what the agent of change was,” he says. In this case, the connection to diet seems clear.

Pennisi concludes that geneticists “envision the day when diets will be determined not by the latest fads and research findings, but through personalized genetic profiles. “We realize now that different human populations have adapted to different diets, so what’s healthy for one person might not be healthy for other people,” Nielsen says. “We need to have personalized diet choices based on genetics.”

Which still leaves us with the question of whether we as a culture will embrace any new findings that conclusively tell us what the right things are to put in our bodies. We know what not to eat, but it doesn’t stop us from our daily processed fast foods–especially here in America. It will be nice to know how our DNA can tell us what to eat, but are we ready to listen?

 


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Understanding DNA In 10 Minutes

DNA molecules

DNA Helix

DNA is now a common term, but do we really know much about it? What story it tells about each of us? Understanding DNA in 10 minutes might be a challenge, but Tom Ireland of Focus University has boiled it down for a quick read.

Since 1953 when Watson and Crick declared “We have discovered the secret of life!” our understanding and practical uses of DNA have improved every year. But one thing is for sure—we still don’t know more than we know. The two biochemists weren’t exaggerating: DNA unlocks many of the mysteries of how living things make, replicate, and repair themselves.

DNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, is found in every cell of every living thing. It carries all of the instructions for an organism to build, maintain and repair itself. By replicating and passing on their DNA, animals, plants and microorganisms can impart their characteristics to their offspring. This is critical to the Darwin Theory of Evolution, and how the strong survive—by passing on their traits through their DNA.

The article shares the following (shared directly from article):

WHAT IS DNA?

  • In humans, half the DNA in our cells stems from our mother, and half from our father. This is why we inherit a mixture of characteristics from both parents. DNA is a hugely long and complex code, and everyone’s is unique. This ‘genetic code’ can tell us many things, including details about ancestry and potential health problems.

WHAT ARE GENES?

  • Genes are sections of our DNA sequence that contain the code for a specific protein, normally linked to a specific function or physical characteristic. In humans, for example, a stretch of DNA known as ‘OCA2’ has a strong influence on a person’s eye color.
  • Variations in these parts of our DNA lead to the different characteristics we see among individuals. For example, people with blue eyes have different DNA at ‘OCA2’ than people with brown eyes.
  • A common misconception about genes is that one gene is responsible for one trait, which is actually highly unusual. More commonly, physical traits result from a combination of many genes.

HOW DOES DNA REPLICATE?

  • The discovery of DNA’s ‘double helix’ structure helped reveal the beautifully simple way a DNA molecule replicates itself. With the help of other chemicals in the cell, the double helix untwists and the two strands split down the middle, like a zip. Because A always pairs with T, and C with G, both strands then form an exact copy as more nucleotides are attracted into the corresponding place opposite the freshly split strands.
  • This replication process is crucially important, because cells are constantly dividing and replicating. If DNA is copied incorrectly, the resulting cells have jumbled instructions and can start growing out of control. This is often how a cancerous tumor starts.

HOW DOES DNA REPLICATE?

  • The discovery of DNA’s ‘double helix’ structure helped reveal the beautifully simple way a DNA molecule replicates itself. With the help of other chemicals in the cell, the double helix untwists and the two strands split down the middle, like a zip. Because A always pairs with T, and C with G, both strands then form an exact copy as more nucleotides are attracted into the corresponding place opposite the freshly split strands.
  • This replication process is crucially important, because cells are constantly dividing and replicating. If DNA is copied incorrectly, the resulting cells have jumbled instructions and can start growing out of control. This is often how a cancerous tumor starts.

WHAT CAN WE DO WITH DNA?

  • We already use DNA for a range of immensely useful applications such as home genetic test kits that can tell us about our past, present and future: what our ancestors were like, what medicines we should take or avoid, and what illnesses we may develop many years from now.
  • We can also use it to settle paternity disputes, or catch criminals, by searching for tiny amounts of DNA found at a crime scene.
  • But that’s just the start. As DNA sequencing becomes vastly easier and cheaper, what was once unthinkable is now eminently possible. Already, scientists can create personalised medicines that are tailored to work with your exact combination of genes. They are reading the genomes of cancer cells, in order to learn more about them and fight them. Gene therapy can be used to fight genetic disorders by inserting new genes into people’s DNA.
  • In the future, biologists may be able to create entirely new organisms that exist solely to produce useful products for us. We may even be able to edit the genome of our offspring – not only to guarantee our children are free from genetic disorders, but also to ensure they have the characteristics we want.

This information might not make you a DNA expert, even if you could read this in 10 minutes. But it provides enough information to get you started, and perhaps like me, makes you eager to learn what DNA mysteries are uncovered in our near future.

 

 


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