Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of DNA-based Technologies for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI)
As we mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C. that occurred on September 11, 2001, we reflect on the pain and loss of the events that shook the entire world, some of us very personally. Here, we also pause to note the progress and missteps that this day brought forth in disaster victim identification (DVI) efforts. At the time of the attacks, DVI protocols were still minimal and the U.S. federal database for crime and missing persons (the Combined DNA Index System, CODIS) was only three years old. Within hours of the attack, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City led a strategy to establish victim family centers. The ad hoc practices that emerged in those first days and months became both patterns for success and cautionary lessons. DVI challenges include how to share data, protect privacy, and obtain consent, in addition to how to communicate unexpected family relationships and employ trauma-informed practices for family reference sample management. In the last 20 years, DNA-based technologies have evolved to allow, for instance, testing of minuscule DNA fragments and analysis of samples within hours via rapid DNA…
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ELSIhub Collections are essential reading lists on fundamental or emerging topics in ELSI, curated and explained by expert Collection Editors, often paired with ELSI trainees. This series assembles materials from cross-disciplinary literatures to enable quick access to key information.