Inaugural CAG Symposium Fosters Deeper Understanding of Key FIGG Topics

Roundtable discussions offered small groups the opportunity to discuss their challenges in the space of FIGG and offer solutions

In recent years, Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) has become a primary focus of large forensic conferences as laboratories explore the adoption of the associated technologies and workflows, law enforcement officials eagerly apply investigative leads to cold and active cases, and legal experts work to defend investigative leads generated using FIGG in court to get convictions.  

Signature Science researchers, led by Senior Genomics Research Scientist Erin Gorden from the Center for Advanced Genomics (CAG), initiated the development of a focused, technical exchange to share perspectives, new developments, and the latest research on FIGG in an open, dedicated forum. The effort resulted in the inaugural Center for Advanced Genomics Symposium in Fall 2023, in partnership with founding sponsor QIAGEN and media partner Forensic Magazine. The event was held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Attendees came from the surrounding region and also traveled from as far as California, Arizona, Texas and Montana.

Conversations continued over craft brews and tasty bites at the event’s QIAGEN-sponsored offsite mixer at Three Notch’d Craft Brewery & Kitchen in Historic Downtown Charlottesville.

Throughout the two-day symposium, attendees engaged in meaningful dialogue and enjoyed direct access to speakers and panelists, leaving attendees with a deeper understanding of key topics along with new professional connections for future, collaborative FIGG pursuits. SNP genotyping, bioinformatics, genealogy, and ethical and legal considerations led the agenda, with panel discussions built in to facilitate focused conversations. Of particular interest among attendees was the bioinformatics session. Signature Science’s V.P. Nagraj fielded several thoughtful questions related to bioinformatics support for laboratories following his talk covering his team’s development of open-source bioinformatics tools for SNP kinship estimation. As was the case in many of the symposium’s sessions, participants raised new and emerging FIGG topics and research questions for future collaboration.  This exchange reflects the spirit of the Center for Advanced Genomics Symposium.

Peak foliage season provided a stunning backdrop for the event!)

Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy is a rapidly evolving discipline that challenges the status quo used for decades among laboratories, law enforcement, and legal experts. Bringing together current FIGG experts and stakeholders helps to harmonize the adoption and application of FIGG to challenging cases throughout the US. Attendees and participants of the inaugural symposium left Charlottesville with new perspectives to consider, additional data to digest, and a renewed commitment to maintaining the highest scientific standards as each attendee performs work in this exciting, important space.

For more information on the Inaugural Center for Advanced Genomics Symposium and future events:

Erin Gorden, M.F.S.
Genomics Research Scientist