National Research Council report urges advances in microbial forensics research

A recent report released by the National Research Council (NRC) identified research priorities for advancing the field of microbial forensics.

The report said that microbial forensics faces significant technical and scientific challenges, but bridging gaps in the field could aid other overlapping disciplines. The NRC compared analyzing microbial genetic information in the event of a suspicious event to using human DNA to as evidence in human trials, Global Biodefense reports.

A research priority identified by the NRC was maintaining a forensics trail while quickly identifying microbes to protect public health. The report said that advances could be made by creating, testing and validating methods that are compatible with both rare and common microbes, according to Global Biodefense.

The report also encouraged research in the fields of pathogenicity and immune responses, as well as improved access to advanced global diagnostic techniques. Utilizing existing technology and markets to quickly develop needed products was also a priority identified by the report, including faster, cheaper and more reliable sequencing technologies, Global Biodefense reports.

International cooperation is also critical to microbial forensic research, the report said. The need for access to scientific resources should be weighed, however, against security and law enforcement concerns, according to Global Biodefense.