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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published January 29 2011

NDSU DNA lab closes over lack of funds

Operations were suspended Friday at a North Dakota State University forensic DNA lab due to a loss of federal funding.

Phil Boudjouk, NDSU vice president for research, creative activities and technology transfer, said the lab had between $2 million and $4 million in funding in an omnibus spending bill that did not pass late last year.

Boudjouk said he still hopes Congress will approve funding for the lab.

Meanwhile, officials are seeking funds from the private sector, Boudjouk said.

The lab, entirely funded by the Department of Justice, received its first grant in 2006. It is located in NDSU’s Industrial Agriculture and Communications Center.

In 2009, the lab became designated as a Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction Project lab.

Boudjouk said the lab, which served the Upper Midwest, was used for evidence analysis for criminal and civil cases.

It was internationally accredited and had special capabilities, particularly with cold case files, Boudjouk said.

“There’s a big need for this type of laboratory,” he said.

The lab employed two full-time workers and two or three part-time workers, Boudjouk said.

A call seeking comment from Berch Henry, director of the lab, was referred to Boudjouk.

The impact to students will be minimal, Boudjouk said, because officials were just beginning to integrate the lab into the academic curriculum.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590