FauxDIS: A Searchable Forensic DNA Database to Support Experiential Learning
CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) is the generic term used to describe the system of U.S. criminal justice DNA databases administered at the local, state and national levels. As of December 2019, the national database contained over 14 million genetic profiles. Access is restricted, however, to authorized government agencies and the database cannot be used in learning exercises. Therefore, we have initiated the construction of a DNA profile database modeled after CODIS and intended for use by educators. The FauxDIS DNA Database is a tool that can be used as part of experiential learning exercises in which students apply the scientific method to solve mock crimes. The DNA profiles generated from collected evidence are searched against the known profiles contained in FauxDIS and statistics applied to quantify the power of an identification. The database currently contains 151 DNA profiles. To generate these profiles, we have developed a work flow analogous to those employed in U.S. operational forensic laboratories. The use of expensive commercial kits has been avoided, making the methods cost-effective and easily transferrable to other laboratories. The FauxDIS DNA Database is available for use by educators in exchange for the submission of novel profiles or unique samples to be profiled. The goal is to encourage national and international collaboration leading to the establishment of a learning network.