The Biology Unit is comprised of three subunits for Body Fluid Identification (BFI), DNA casework analysis, and DNA Databasing.
The BFI subunit examines items of physical evidence for the presence or absence of biological material suitable for PCR-based DNA analysis. Submitted items typically include sexual assault kits, clothing, scene samples, or objects collected at crime scenes. Presumptive tests and/or confirmatory tests for body fluids such as blood, semen, and saliva are performed, with a report generated for the BFI results. Additionally, the BFI subunit performs Y-screen testing for sexual assault cases, performing a DNA extraction and quantification to determine if any male DNA is present (when applicable) on swabs collected during sexual assault examination kit collection. Biological samples are collected and forwarded to the Biology/DNA Section for DNA analysis.
The DNA Casework Subunit is dedicated to performing PCR-based DNA analysis on questioned samples submitted to the lab for comparison to any known reference samples submitted in criminal cases. DNA analysis involves the extraction, quantitation, amplification, and genetic analysis of biological samples involved in the case at hand. The DNA Casework subunit is currently able to extract DNA from biological materials including blood, semen, saliva, sweat, and tissue samples. Once a DNA profile is developed from the evidence, it can be compared to the known DNA profiles of all involved individuals. This comparison can result in a match between the evidence and an individual (inclusion), no match between the evidence and the individual (exclusion) or no conclusion if the condition of the evidence prevents the collection of sufficient information to render an opinion. Qualifying profiles generated from the evidence can then be entered into the DNA Database to determine if there is a match with evidence from another case or with an individual who was required to submit a DNA sample to the DNA database. The WV DNA database is a part of a national network called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) which provides investigative leads to law enforcement concerning unsolved crimes as well as aids in the identification of unidentified human remains.
The DNA Databasing subunit of the laboratory performs DNA testing on individuals who have been convicted of a qualifying offense for entry into the WV DNA Database, confirmation of hits within the CODIS Database, and ensures notification of any database hits to investigators. More information on the WV DNA Database law can be found in WV Code §15-2B.
For more information about the WVSPFL Biology Unit, please contact us via email at
Baccalaureate degree in a biological, chemical or forensic science with science and laboratory-based coursework as integral components. A minimum of 9 cumulative semester hours in undergraduate or graduate courses in genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology are required as well as statistics and/or population genetics coursework.
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