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Battelle Applied Genomics Today

Battelle Applied Genomics Today

Featured Expert: Christine Baker, M.S.: Forensics Genomics Technical Lead

Christine Baker, M.S. Christine Baker

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has the potential to revolutionize DNA forensics—but only if it makes the leap from theory to practice in working forensic laboratories and in the courtroom. Principal Research Scientist Christi Baker plays a key role in helping government agencies integrate the latest NGS technologies into their laboratory processes and validating methods for the criminal justice system. 

Christi oversees the technical teams who are helping agencies get up and running with NGS technologies. Under her guidance, the Battelle Applied Genomics team works with agencies to select or develop NGS test kits, develop and validate laboratory workflows, set up analysis pipelines and train laboratory personnel on the new methods. She is currently working on technology translation projects with multiple U.S. government clients. Her team is also deeply involved with a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study to evaluate NGS technologies, reagents, software and methods at seven partner forensic laboratories. 

Christi has been with Battelle since 2010, and brings 15 years of experience in genetics and genomics. She has served as Principal Investigator for a number of internal and external research and development programs and has led multiple large-scope projects in support of the federal government. This includes the development of custom amplification products for forensically relevant SNP, as well as STR and mtDNA panels for NGS in collaboration with the Promega Corporation. Ms. Baker’s research also involved the development of a non-alignment bioinformatics method for typing SNP markers, which ultimately was incorporated into Battelle’s NGS analysis software, Battelle ExactID®. She holds a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Georgia and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Virginia.

Moving forward, she sees a need for further work in developing solutions for storing and searching the large data sets produced by NGS as well as new methods for analyzing complex mixed samples. More validation research is also needed to ensure that the evidence produced by NGS analysis is admissible in court.