Role of law enforcement response and microbial forensics in investigation of bioterrorism

Bruce Budowle, Jodi A. Beaudry, Neel G. Barnaby, Alan M. Giusti, Jason D. Bannan, Paul Keim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The risk and threat of bioterrorism and biocrime have become a large concern and challenge for governments and society to enhance biosecurity. Law enforcement plays an important role in assessing and investigating activities involved in an event of bioterrorism or biocrime. Key to a successful biosecurity program is increased awareness and early detection of threats facilitated by an integrated network of responsibilities and capabilities from government, academic, private, and public assets. To support an investigation, microbial forensic sciences are employed to analyze and characterize forensic evidence with the goal of attribution or crime scene reconstruction. Two different molecular biology-based assays - real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and repetitive element PCR - are described and demonstrate how molecular biology tools may be utilized to aid in the investigative process. Technologies relied on by microbial forensic scientists need to be properly validated so that the methods used are understood and so that interpretation of results is carried out within the limitations of the assays. The three types of validation are preliminary, developmental, and internal. The first is necessary for rapid response when a threat is imminent or an attack has recently occurred. The latter two apply to implementation of routinely used procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-449
Number of pages13
JournalCroatian Medical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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