GHEP-ISFG collaborative simulated exercise for DVI/MPI: Lessons learned about large-scale profile database comparisons

Carlos M. Vullo, Magdalena Romero, Laura Catelli, Mustafa Šakić, Victor G. Saragoni, María Jose Jimenez Pleguezuelos, Carola Romanini, Maria João Anjos Porto, Jorge Puente Prieto, Alicia Bofarull Castro, Alexis Hernandez, María José Farfán, Victoria Prieto, David Alvarez, Gustavo Penacino, Santiago Zabalza, Alejandro Hernández Bolaños, Irati Miguel Manterola, Lourdes Prieto, Thomas Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The GHEP-ISFG Working Group has recognized the importance of assisting DNA laboratories to gain expertise in handling DVI or missing persons identification (MPI) projects which involve the need for large-scale genetic profile comparisons. Eleven laboratories participated in a DNA matching exercise to identify victims from a hypothetical conflict with 193 missing persons. The post mortem database was comprised of 87 skeletal remain profiles from a secondary mass grave displaying a minimal number of 58 individuals with evidence of commingling. The reference database was represented by 286 family reference profiles with diverse pedigrees. The goal of the exercise was to correctly discover re-associations and family matches. The results of direct matching for commingled remains re-associations were correct and fully concordant among all laboratories. However, the kinship analysis for missing persons identifications showed variable results among the participants. There was a group of laboratories with correct, concordant results but nearly half of the others showed discrepant results exhibiting likelihood ratio differences of several degrees of magnitude in some cases. Three main errors were detected: (a) some laboratories did not use the complete reference family genetic data to report the match with the remains, (b) the identity and/or non-identity hypotheses were sometimes wrongly expressed in the likelihood ratio calculations, and (c) many laboratories did not properly evaluate the prior odds for the event. The results suggest that large-scale profile comparisons for DVI or MPI is a challenge for forensic genetics laboratories and the statistical treatment of DNA matching and the Bayesian framework should be better standardized among laboratories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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