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Webinar Series: Optimizing the Forensic DNA Casework Laboratory

This live webinar series will show laboratory analysts, managers and directors how casework DNA laboratories can significantly increase productivity, reduce errors, and improve data quality by using STACS-CW sample processing and lab management software.

There are four webinars in this series. Each addresses a different aspect of work in a forensic DNA casework lab, so be sure to register for all four. Each webinar is 60 minutes.

This webinar series will be offered monthly starting in April 2018. Check back here for details, or subscribe to receive the announcement in your inbox. 

Presented by:

Malena Jimenez, Field Application Specialist

As a Criminalist with the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP)’s multi-site DNA casework laboratory, Malena has held positions as a LIMS Administrator, Safety Officer, DNA Auditor and Casework and CODIS Criminalist, where she played an active role optimizing the lab’s automation. Malena is an ABC-certified analyst with extensive courtroom experience and technical training, and holds a Bachelor of Science with a major in Cellular/Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry from Utah State University.

In addition to her scientific knowledge, Malena has extensive information technology experience. During her time at MSHP, she served as both a LIMS Administrator in charge of maintaining the Missouri State Crime Laboratory’s evidence inventory and processing database and a STACS Administrator in charge of implementing STACS DNA at three sites, providing training and support, and maintaining the DNA Casework sample processing database through interaction with MSHP and STACS IT support.

Since joining STACS DNA in 2014, Malena has expanded her information technology ability through SQL Server database management, application design/installation, and customer relationship management. Malena is responsible for working with forensic DNA laboratories to identify and capture customer requirements, incorporate new technologies, perform training and ensure smooth implementations.

Hosted by:

Tim Stacy, Sales Director, Forensics

Tim Stacy joined STACS DNA in 2005. He works with the DNA laboratory community to ensure STACS DNA and its product line meets the needs of our clients to further improve laboratory processes with the latest technologies. Prior to joining STACS DNA, Tim spent 17 years with Cellmark Diagnostics/Orchid Cellmark as a Molecular Biologist, Laboratory Supervisor and Director of Sales and Marketing. Tim has a B.S. in Medical Technology (ASCP) from the Medical College of Virginia.

Webinar 1

Laboratory Management: Tracking Consumables and Instruments to Optimize Performance

Target audience: DNA Analysts, Lab Managers, Quality Assurance Managers

Effective laboratory management requires trade-offs. Laboratories need to ensure they are using the best consumables on their samples, and using instruments that have been maintained and are in great working order.

You need to track consumable inventories to make sure the necessary consumables are on hand while also maximizing dollars spent – without under ordering and running out of consumables or over ordering and having consumables expire before being used. You need to make sure consumables that have not been quality control tested or released for use are not being used on casework. You must even enforce the use of specific lots so they are consumed prior to expiring.

Managing instruments is also a time-consuming task that requires verifying maintenance schedules are met, external calibrations are performed within the required time frames, and that out-of-service instruments are prohibited from use. These day-to-day laboratory tasks are just as important as sample processing. Join us for our Laboratory Management webinar as we discuss these trade-offs and how STACS-CW can track consumables, ordering, instrument maintenance and storage to save time and prevent errors.


Webinar 2

Sample Processing: Tracking Evidence and Reporting

Target audience: DNA Analysts, Lab Managers, Quality Assurance Managers

What sample processing challenge should your lab solve first? Most labs want to tackle tracking – that is, documenting every step the evidence takes and every test it is submitted to. Unfortunately, most laboratories don’t have the knowledge base or time to create or maintain a proper database for tracking sample processing, let alone for mining sample processing statistics for upper management. There are always new kits, new instruments, new methods and workflows, and often times these changes require a complete revamp of the current tracking system. This means resources must be removed from casework and reassigned to creating new tracking methods.

Even more daunting is the need to create an understandable way to present sample processing information. An important part of a forensic analyst’s duties is to provide documentation and reports to other analysts for tech review, to submitting agencies, or to legal counsel.  The reports must concisely track every step the evidence underwent in a logical, clear fashion. As most laboratories are batching sample processing, it is also preferable to not have repeated information in these reports as it can exponentially increase the length.

Join us for our Sample Processing webinar as we discuss evidence tracking and reporting and how STACS-CW will benefit your laboratory by preventing errors, increasing productivity, improving data quality, and maintaining compliance.


Webinar 3

Integration: Saving Time and Reducing Errors Through Laboratory Integration

Target audience: Target audience: DNA Analysts, Lab Managers, Quality Assurance Managers

A laboratory that lacks integration with external applications must perform manual data entry and risk the resulting errors. Integration can be a one-way interaction or a fully circular process, depending on the needs of the laboratory and/or the abilities of the applications involved.

Forensics  uses a plethora of databases and instrumentation; being able to share data among them is necessary to achieve success. A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) typically contains all case-related information. It is imperative that the DNA module accept information directly from the LIMS with minimal user actions. Laboratory instruments may require sample sheets with information regarding sample locations and other specific instrument parameters. While other instruments provide output results that are needed for determining sample workflows or performing calculations. Once the profile has been developed,  the analyst may still need to enter the data into statistical applications or criminal justice DNA databases. Without integration, most laboratories are left to hand-enter information, track workflows manually, and perform important computations by hand.  Furthermore, laboratories need a way to create a final conclusion report for the submitting agency or other law enforcement entities, track the technical review of this report, release date or closure of the case.

Join us for our Integration webinar as we discuss these laboratory challenges and how STACS-CW can integrate your laboratory to prevent errors, increase productivity and improve data quality.


Webinar 4

Compliance: Data at Your Fingertips: Easing Audits and Operating Compliance

Target audience: Lab Managers, Lab Directors

Forensic DNA laboratories are highly regulated entities. Laboratory accreditation is required and is most likely maintained through adherence to the ISO 17025 quality manual and other accrediting body’s supplemental requirements.  Access to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) depends upon laboratories maintaining compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards for DNA Testing Laboratories. Each entity may also have its own regulatory requirements overseen by an internal board. This can often mean several audits a year requiring hours of information gathering and explanations. In addition, the ability to maintain all consumable, instrument, and sample processing documents digitally greatly reduces the amount of audit preparation time.

Compliance refers to not only external compliance, but internal compliance as well. Analysts need easy access to the laboratory’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as they perform their duties. Managers need to track SOP versions to know which was in effect during a given time frame. SOPs are often required through discovery request; therefore, having digital tracking mechanisms will reduce the stress of discovery response.

Join us for our Compliance webinar as we discuss these laboratory challenges and how STACS-CW can help your laboratory maintain compliance more easily, saving hundreds of hours and reducing errors.