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Othram Announces Project 525 to Identify Missing and Murdered Children

Othram will be working through five hundred twenty-five juvenile cases published in NamUs, as part of a special initiative funded through philanthropy and crowdfunding.

The Woodlands, TX — May 23, 2024

Othram, the leading forensic sequencing laboratory for law enforcement, is proud to announce the launch of a new project focused on the identification of five hundred twenty-five unidentified children. The project name and initial scope commemorates National Missing Children's Day, held each year on May 25.

National Missing Children's Day highlights the urgency of protecting children and reconnecting missing children with their families. This day raises awareness about the vulnerabilities children face and emphasizes the need for swift and effective action to identify remains and solve cases of missing children, who are nearly always the victims of crimes.

The importance of a nationwide repository for resources to resolve long-term missing persons and unidentified human remains cases cannot be overstated. Since 2022, Othram has worked in collaboration with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), a program of the National Institute of Justice managed by RTI International, providing the program with cutting-edge genomic tools and genealogical research to help provide resolution to missing and unidentified cases across the country. Othram's Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® (FGGS®) has been instrumental in solving numerous active and cold cases for local, state, and federal agencies across the United States and internationally. More forensic genetic genealogy cases have been solved with Othram FGGS® than any other method.

To continue our support and joint mission, Othram will be working through five hundred twenty-five juvenile cases published in NamUs, as part of a special initiative titled “Project 525”. NamUs, the nation’s only federally legislated program providing technology, forensic, investigative, and analytical services to resolve all long-term missing and unidentified decedent cases, plays a crucial role in supporting these investigations. Of the more than 24,400 active missing persons cases NamUs is currently supporting, 24% involve juveniles. This is in addition to supporting 1,278 active unidentified decedent cases involving children. Therefore, by utilizing the efficient and comprehensive case assessment pathway established by NamUs, we will be able to help restore names back to the most vulnerable members of our population.

Recently, Othram and NamUs announced the joint resolution of a 1978 Lincoln County Coroner’s Office case involving the remains of a female initially thought to be those of a woman, age 30-40, but later determined to belong to Helen Renee Groomes, a 15-year-old victim of homicide. Cases like this underscore the need for collaborative case evaluation strategies, advanced genomic technologies, and centralized national resources, regardless of demographic or manner of death.

RTI and Othram collaborate beyond the NamUs program, working together on federal grants and business initiatives to make advanced forensic genetic techniques more accessible. Coupling RTI's extensive research capabilities with Othram’s cutting-edge genomic technologies and infrastructure, we aim to streamline and strengthen the use of forensic genetic genealogy in investigations by providing criminal justice agencies with better tools and resources to solve complex cases more efficiently.

About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at recovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches fail. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. Visit dnasolves.com to learn how anyone can make a difference in helping solve the next cold case.

About RTI

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Our vision is to address the world’s most critical problems with science-based solutions in pursuit of a better future. Clients rely on us to answer questions that demand an objective and multidisciplinary approach—one that integrates expertise across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering, and international development. We conduct research and deliver technical services on behalf of government agencies, universities, foundations, private businesses, and other organizations. We serve clients around the world, with a science-based approach to projects of all sizes—from focused studies and applied R&D to large-scale national and international longitudinal research efforts. RTI provides the multidisciplinary expertise and research insights our clients need to inform policy, practice, and programs. We support more than 1,100 unique clients with a staff of more than 6,000 employees across 18 U.S. and international offices.

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