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Parabon Announces New Snapshot Forensic Art Service

August 19, 2015  | 

Image: Parabon NanoLabs
Image: Parabon NanoLabs

Parabon NanoLabs Inc. (Parabon) announced at the International Homicide Investigators Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C., a new suite of forensic art capabilities to complement the company's Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service, a forensics offering that can interrogate an evidentiary DNA sample and produce an accurate composite image of the source.

The talent behind Parabon's new offering is Thomas "Thom" Shaw, a veteran forensic artist, certified by the International Association for Identification (IAI), with special training in age progression and facial reconstruction from skulls. Shaw's skillset also includes the ability to add "accessories" to a composite, such as eyeglasses, piercings or facial hair. In addition to his forensic artist position at Parabon, Thom is also a police captain with 29 years of law enforcement experience in Northern Virginia.

Snapshot Division Leader, Dr. Ellen Greytak, welcomed the latest addition to the Parabon Snapshot team, stating, "The addition of Thom's forensic art capabilities perfectly complements the information Snapshot can derive from DNA. In situations where investigators have descriptive information about a subject that is not encoded in DNA, such as an estimate of age or information indicating a subject has facial hair, Thom can expertly enhance a Snapshot composite accordingly."

Facial reconstruction from skulls is another of Shaw's talents. When combined with Snapshot, such reconstruction can be particularly helpful for the identification of unidentified remains. Snapshot currently predicts external facial morphology from DNA alone. When available, detailed information about the actual bone structure of a skull can be used to confirm or enhance the corresponding Snapshot composite.

In some missing persons cases, DNA from skeletal remains is compared to that of potential family members in hopes of making an identification. Whereas traditional DNA analysis methods used in missing person cases can only match against a DNA database or DNA from a parent, Snapshot provides an accurate composite of an individual from DNA extracted from remains and can perform kinship analysis out to six degrees of relatedness. "Especially when coupled with Thom's facial reconstruction techniques, Snapshot is positioned to greatly assist families and investigators with the identification of the more than 10,000 persons in the United States whose remains have not been identified," said Greytak. Shaw added, "I am delighted to have the opportunity to help Parabon revolutionize DNA forensics by applying my craft. It's been my dream to make a significant contribution to forensics through the combination of science and art."

Parabon is exhibiting at the 2015 Annual IHIA Training Symposium being held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill at 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW in Washington, DC. The Symposium, in its 22nd year, is designed to provide educational training to federal, state, local and international professionals involved in the investigation of violent crimes and death with the training on the latest techniques and methodologies in solving crimes.

About Parabon NanoLabs Inc.

Parabon NanoLabs is a vertically integrated DNA technology company that develops next-generation forensic and therapeutic products, which leverage the enormous power of DNA. Staffed by a qualified team of scientists and technologists, with expertise ranging from bioinformatics and chemistry to computer science and pharmacology, Parabon is bringing to market revolutionary new products and services made possible by recent advances in DNA sequencing, analysis and manufacturing technologies. Based in Reston, Virginia, Parabon is privately held and has received mentoring and investment support from the Center for Innovative Technology, an economic development center that assists innovative technology companies in Virginia.

About the International Homicide Investigators Association

The International Homicide Investigators Association is an organization dedicated to providing active support to law enforcement personnel responsible for death investigation. Through leadership, training, networking and provision of resources and expertise to resolve cases, the IHIA serves a membership comprised of law enforcement, forensics, behavioral specialties, coroners/medical examiners, prosecutors and information analysts.

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