The Bioforensics group research focus is at the intersection of genetic identity, DNA based forensic science and issues pertaining to national security. We leverage molecular biology and bioinformatics to address applied scientific questions relating to (1) DNA based geolocation – the exploitation of biologicals to aid in tagging, tracking locating targets of interest and (2) laboratory and computational approaches to DNA mixture interpretation.

PI: Michael A Marciano, Research Assistant Professor
Email: mamarcia@syr.edu
College of Arts and Sciences : Forensic & National Security Sciences Institute
More About Michael Marciano

Co-PI: Jonathan D Adelman, Research Assistant Professor
College of Arts and Sciences : Forensic & National Security Sciences Institute
More About Jonathan Adelman

Current Students:

  • Taylor Cahalan
  • Kacey Christian
  • Molly Dunegan
  • D. Spencer Eberst
  • Michael Maloney
  • Ebrar Mohammad
  • Angie Zhao

In the News

 Recent Publications

  1. Marciano, M. A. & Adelman, J. D. (2017). PACE: Probabilistic Assessment for Contributor Estimation—A machine learning-based assessment of the number of contributors in DNA mixtures. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 27, 82-91. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2016.11.006 
  2. Marciano M.A.,Panicker S.X., Liddil G.D., Lindgren D. & Sweder K.S. Development of a Method to Extract Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) DNA from Heroin.  Nature Scientific Reports 8 (2018) 2590. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20996-9
  3. Williamson, V.R, Laris T.M., Romano R. Marciano & M.A. Enhanced DNA Mixture Deconvolution of Sexual Offense Samples Using the DEPArray™ System.  Forensic Science International: Genetics. 34(2018) 265-276). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.03.001
  4. Marciano M.A., Williamson V.R. & Adelman J.D. A Hybrid Approach to Increase the Informedness of CE-based Data Using Locus-Specific Thresholding and Machine Learning. Forensic Science International: Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.03.017.

A Hybrid Machine Learning Approach for DNA Mixture Interpretation

The Bioforensics group has developed a DNA mixture deconvolution software to explore the use of machine learning as a potential method for enhanced deconvolution. The software related to this initial proof of concept study can be downloaded here. Please contact us for any questions or support needs.

This project was supported by Award No. 2014-DN-BX-K029 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.


Inventors: Michael A. Marciano and Jonathan D Adelman

Abstract: Methods and systems for characterizing two or more nucleic acids in a sample. The method can include the steps of providing a hybrid machine learning approach that enables rapid and automated deconvolution of DNA mixtures of multiple contributors. The input is analyzed by an expert system which is implemented in the form of a rule set. The rule set establishes requirements based on expectations on the biology and methods used. The methods and systems also include a machine learning algorithm that is either incorporated into the expert system, or utilizes the output of the expert system for analysis. The machine learning algorithm can be any of a variety of different algorithms or combinations of algorithms used to perform classification in a complex data environment.