Making the world ‘a better and safer place’
Bode Technology excels in private forensics analysis of DNA
- August 28, 2014
A California resident was declared a free man after DNA testing by private forensics experts at Bode Technology proved that he had been wrongly convicted of sexual assault. Bode received the victim’s clothing for DNA testing from the California Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic. The DNA profile matched another man who resembled the accused and lived near the crime scene.
On any given day, the work in DNA analysis performed at the company’s 39,000-square-foot facility in Lorton could be a story line for the popular television show “CSI,” crime scene investigation. Bode’s experts help police solve crimes, locate missing people and identify remains. Their work is not for the faint of heart. The evidence they sample ranges from the bloody shirt of a crime victim to unidentified bones of people killed in disasters.
The company also works on the international stage. In 2010, Bode assisted the United Nations in identifying UN personnel who lost their lives in the Haitian earthquake. “DNA forensics is a challenging business. We see and hear tragic things every day,” says Andrew Singer, vice president of sales and marketing. “However, we are passionate about what we do. It is our mission to support the efforts in solving crimes and identifying the missing, as well as support those that may have been wrongfully convicted. We believe what we are doing is making our world a better and safer place.”
Bode is working with the Fairfax County Police Department on the creation of a local DNA database. Police will use the database to combat local property crimes such as burglaries and car thefts through the use of DNA in the investigation.
Since its founding in 1995, the company has completed more than 80,000 forensic cases. It has worked with 30,000 unidentified human remains and processed more than 1.5 million reference samples (DNA) from individuals. Services range from DNA testing and missing person identification to private data banking of convicted offenders and paternity identification. Bode also develops and produces products such as a swab collection device to help improve DNA collection and recovery.
Besides police departments and attorneys, it works with state and federal government. “The majority of our work is with public crime labs throughout the country,” says Singer. “We help process evidence for active and backlog cases. We have worked and testified in every state.”
The company’s missing persons efforts help identify human remains around the world. It developed new advances in extraction technologies that led to the reopening of efforts to identify victims of the World Trade Center after terrorist attacks on the twin towers in September 2011.
Under a State Department-funded project, the company also identified missing persons from Guatemala, Peru and Argentina as well as various other Latin American countries. “Bode is the only private laboratory in the U.S. to participate in multiple U.S. government-funded grants for using DNA technology to identify the missing,” says Singer.
Founded in Springfield by Tom Bode, the company was sold in the early 2000s and is now owned by an investment group in New York. It has two facilities in addition to its Lorton headquarters — a paternity lab in Phoenix and a manufacturing facility in Kansas. It also serves as a contractor in the FBI lab in Quantico.
Approximately 100 of the company’s 150 employees and contractors work in the Lorton facility. “When we originally opened, our initial thought was to be close to the FBI,” Singer says. “Also, Virginia was the first state really to do DNA databasing and we did some analysis with them. We have a good relationship with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.”
The company has experienced substantial growth because of “increasing demand for forensic DNA services and expansion in the use of DNA to investigate crimes,” says Singer, who declined to release revenue figures.
Most of Bode’s domestic work includes reference samples and forensic cases — sexual assaults, thefts and property crimes such as burglaries. International work generally is focused on major disasters. It worked with Kuwait to identify victims of the 1991 Iraqi occupation. “We initially processed 88 bone samples, which resulted in multiple identifications,” Singer said.
Approximately 10 percent of the company’s business is international. It recently started a DNA program in Qatar. “We worked with them and put their forensic training in place,” Singer says, noting that the company does a lot of training. “We spent time there helping them learn to do forensic processing.”
Relationships are important to the decisions made in Qatar, he adds. “The individuals we were working with were looking for a partner to support their efforts rather than a vendor. It doesn’t always come down to price. More times it comes down to knowing the people. For example, talking of family, having a meal or coffee and getting to know the person — well before even bringing up any discussion of business.”
Economy in Lorton (Fairfax County)
Lorton is home to several industrial parks, including Fullerton, Gunston, Commerce Center and Gateway 95. Employers in the area include federal agencies, Frito-Lay, Switzerland-based SICPA Securink (which provides secured identification and authentication services), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the headquarters of the Five Guys Burgers and Fries chain. Fairfax County is home to 10 Fortune 500 headquarters, nearly half of the 22 Fortune 500 companies in Virginia.
Economy in Qatar
Qatar’s economy relies heavily on oil and gas, which makes up more than 50 percent of the country’s GDP. The Al-Thani family has ruled the country since 1971. According to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, the country has “25 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and the world’s third-largest gas reserves … In 2007 it became the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.” The International Monetary Fund notes that Qatar’s economic growth averaged 14 percent during the past decade with per-capita GDP reaching $100,000, the highest in the world. In 2022 it will host the FIFA World Cup. Some of its largest companies include Qatar Steel, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Airways.