DNAPrint Genomics


DNAPrint Genomics
(Grey Market: DNAG
IndustryGenomics, Forensic Science
HeadquartersSarasota, Florida
Key people
Richard Gabriel (CEO)
Hector J. Gomez, Chief Medical Officer
Tony Frudakis, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer
ProductsPharmacogenomics, Genomic profiling, Genotyping

DNAPrint Genomics was a genetics company with a wide range of products related to genetic profiling. They were the first company to introduce forensic and consumer genomics products, which were developed immediately upon the publication of the first complete draft of the human genome in the early 2000s. They researched, developed, and marketed the first ever consumer genomics product, based on "Ancestry Informative Markers" which they used to correctly identify the BioGeographical Ancestry (BGA) of a human based on a sample of their DNA. They also researched, developed and marketed the first ever forensic genomics product - DNAWITNESS - which was used to create a physical profile of donors of crime scene DNA. The company reached a peak of roughly $3M/year revenues but ceased operations in February 2009.[1][2]

Consumer applications

DNAPrint Genomics' flagship product was "AncestryByDNA", a DNA test for its consumers that breaks down the percentage ancestry of a client, based on Ancestry Informative Markers (SNP polymorphisms) their DNA. AncestryByDNA was a historical product, representing the first consumer genomics product ever developed and marketed in the US and probably world-wide. It was marketed as a tool for personal genealogical research, and for adoptees looking to learn more about their genealogy.[3]

Forensic applications

DNAPrint's most controversial offering was "DNAWitness", a product that uses the same Ancestry Informative Markers for a forensic purpose, as well as polymorphisms in the human OCA2 gene and others to make inference about iris (eye), hair and skin color. DNAPrint was the first to research and publish the linkages between OCA2 polymorphisms and human eye color and by integrating these with the same ancestry informative markers used with its consumer BGA tests for analysis with DNA evidence from crime scenes, DNAPrint Genomics was able to help narrow down suspects based on the construction of an "in-silco constructed, database driven" physical trait or phenotype profile.[4][5]

In 2006, Scotland Yard and London's Metropolitan Police announced that they would be investigating the use of DNAWitness to narrow suspects in the search for a long-standing effort to capture a serial rapist known as the Minstead Rapist.[6]

DNAWitness was used in 2007 to help narrow down suspects in the investigation into the 2002 murder of Pam Kinamore. Though the police dragnet was initially looking for white suspects based on an early eyewitness, DNAPrint Genomics was later contracted to test the DNA sample, and concluded that the suspect was of "substantial African ancestry".[7] Investigators redirected their investigation to focus on individuals fitting this description and shortly thereafter identified Derrick Todd Lee who was subsequently convicted of the crime as well as a series of other similar murders in the Baton Rouge Louisiana area. This application of "Forensic Phenotyping", where physical characteristics were inferred from crime scene DNA and used to redirect, and help solve a crime, was covered by New York Times, Wired Magazine, Popular Science, US News and World Report, Sarasota Herald Tribune, ABC and CBS Evening News programs, Australian and German News programs and in a Forensic Files episode entitled "Tight Fitting Genes" [8] as a historical first.

Since the Lee case, the product was used on dozens of other serial homicide cases with successful results, including a case out of Napa Valley where the suspect saw a Forensic Files show ("Good as Gold, Season 12, Episode 15) on his murder where his "in silico" genetic portrait was a dead-ringer, and in a panic, turned himself in.[9]

Historical Relevance

In the early 2000s, under the leadership of founder and then CEO Tony N. Frudakis, Ph.D., DNAPrint forged a nascent consumer genetics/genomics and forensic phenotyping marketplace. In the mid to late 2000s many journalists and academics harshly criticized DNAPrint's application of genomics research for consumer and forensic purposes but by the early 2000-teens, the forensic science applications of BioGeographical Ancestry (BGA) admixture analysis for the inference of BGA and certain anthropometric phenotypes such as skin shade, eye/hair color, had become well established and by 2019 the market for these types of products had grown to over $500M/year in size. As of 2019, various capillary electrophoresis (e.g. Applied Biosystems) and next generation sequencing platform and consumable manufacturers have introduced human identity products combining classical (CODIS eligible) STR profiling marker sets with unique SNP based AIMS for the inference of BGA and phenotype (e.g. ForenSeq, from Illumina's Verogen). Various private and public laboratories had also emerged to provide forensic phenotyping services (e.g. Parabon Nanolabs).

In the mid-2000s, Frudakis wrote the seminal textbook introducing the forensic and consumer market application of genome-derived marker panels. [10]

In the mid-to late 2000s, before it had fully developed these new markets, the hedge fund supporting DNAPrint liquidated the company and sold its intellectual property and know-how to DNA Diagnostics Company (DDC). Just prior to the company's liquidation, other companies launched similar products in the consumer genomic genealogy market (e.g. 23andMe and Ancestry.com). By 2018, these companies had extended the science significantly, building even larger genomic databases and enabling finer level and even entirely new inferences. For example, in forensics, over 70 serial homicide cases (including the Golden State Killer) having been solved through genetic genealogy hits enabled by the types of consumer genomics databases DNAPrint was the first to introduce. In these cases, potential relatives of individuals that donated DNA to crime scenes are identified. With consumer genealogy, family members can now be identified and reconnected through database matching, and customers can now pinpoint even intracontinental and regional family origins using the types of consumer genomics databases DNAPrint was the first to introduce.


  1. ^ The Genetic Genealogist | DNAPrint Genomics Ceases Operations
  2. ^ | GenomeWeb Daily News | GenomeWeb
  3. ^ Hamilton, Anita (2005-07-05). "Can DNA Reveal Your Roots?". Time. Archived from the original on July 6, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  4. ^ "Molecular Photofitting: Predicting Ancestry and Phenotype from DNA". Elsiever Academic Press. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 24 September 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2007. Alt URL
  5. ^ "An Invisible Man: The Hunt for a Serial Killer Who Got Away With a Decade of Murder". Berkley. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2006.
  6. ^ "DNAPrint Genomics Scientist Delivers Presentation to Detectives at New Scotland Yard". Market Wire. 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  7. ^ "The Inconvenient Science of Racial DNA Profiling". Wired Magazine. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  8. ^ "Forensic Files Season 10, Episode 15 "Tight Fitting Genes"". Forensic Files. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2005.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Forensic Files Season 12, Episode 15 "Good as Gold"". Forensic Files. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Molecular Photofitting: Predicting Ancestry and Phenotype from DNA". Elsiever Academic Press. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2007.

External links

  • Official homepage
  • A New DNA Test Can ID a Suspect's Race