Celebrating life – it’s DNA Day on April 25!

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National DNA Day commemorates the discovery of the DNA double helix in 1953, as well as the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

Looking at the history of DNA timeline, the landmark discovery of James Watson, Francis Crick and colleagues was based on foundations previously laid down by several other scientists. Although Friedrich Miescher identified nuclein, or what we know today as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in 1869, its significant role in genetic inheritance was not established until the early 1940s by Oswald Avery. This groundwork helped pave the way for Watson and Crick’s milestone discovery – the three-dimensional, double helical structure of DNA. Their notable research was published in Nature in April 1953 and earned them the Nobel Prize in 1962.1

It was several decades later that The Human Genome Project was formally launched. In 1990, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) joined hands with international partners in a quest to sequence all three billion base pairs in the human genome.2 This project was expected to be completed in 15 years. However, with major advances in technology and concerted effort, they were able to complete the project two years ahead of schedule. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Human Genome Project!

How does QIAGEN fit in?

QIAGEN was founded in 1984 and revolutionized the molecular biology industry by introducing the first “Plasmid-Kit” in 1986. This kit was used to purify plasmids (a segment of DNA independent of chromosomal DNA that is capable of replication) in a matter of hours rather than days and introduced the “little blue box” we are all so familiar with today. Nearly a decade later, their first automated purification bench-top workstation, the BioRobot 9600 was introduced, thus setting the groundwork for our beloved EZ1 Advanced XL. With further advances in technology, QIAGEN has been able to create an improved workflow solution, from Sample to Insight, for your forensic laboratory needs. Enjoy DNA Day by exploring ways to improve your forensic workflow and see how QIAGEN can make a difference! Explore your options!

Fascinating facts about forensic DNA:

  1. 1. In 1995, the world’s first national DNA database was established in the UK.3
  2. 2. Detroit Police Crime Laboratory published the article using QIAGEN’s QIAamp spin columns for forensic casework in 1998.4
  3. 3. We are more alike than you may think with 99.9% our genetic makeup being identical.5
  4. 4. Colin Pitchfork was the first person brought to justice through DNA fingerprinting in 1986 in the UK.6
  5. 5. DNA has helped solve cold cases about 50 years after the crime!7

Happy DNA Day!


1. Pray, L. (2008) Discovery of DNA structure and function: Watson and Crick. Nature Education 1(1):100

2. Human Genome Project NIH Fact Sheets (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=45&key=H#H

3. Wallace, H.M. (2014) Forensic DNA databases–Ethical and legal standards: A global review. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences 4 (3):57-63

4. Greenspoon, S.A. (1998) QIAamp spin columns as a method of DNA isolation for forensic casework. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 43(5):1024-30.

5. FAQ About Genetic and Genomic Science. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://www.genome.gov/19016904

6. Colin Pitchfork (n.d.) Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://aboutforensics.co.uk/colin-pitchfork/

7. Solving Cold Cases with DNA: The Boston Strangler Case (2014) Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://www.nij.gov/journals/273/pages/boston-strangler.aspx


QIAGEN history


Angela Cacioppo, MPS

Global Market Manager, Demand Generation

Angela joined QIAGEN in 2017. She received her Master's Degree in Forensic Science (biology track) from Pennsylvania State University. Before joining QIAGEN, Angela worked at The Bode Technology Group (a.k.a Bode Cellmark Forensics) as a DNA analyst, where she processed thousands of DNA samples and traveled the United States to testify as an expert witness. Afterwards, she joined LGC, where she was involved in the rollout and deployment of new and innovated technology, ParaDNA Systems, that facilitates the screening and triage of DNA samples.

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