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Announcement: Intermountain Forensics purchases Keepsake DNA



Intermountain Forensics and Keepsake DNA are excited to announce that Keepsake DNA (www.KeepsakeDNA.com) has been purchased by Intermountain Forensics! All of Keepsake DNA's operations will be overseen by IMF as of June 1st 2022. We believe this is a great partnership that will 1) allow IMF to help another non-profit organization with their mission and 2) ensure that IMF will be able to run DNA sequencing at a better price point with less disruptions and a better turn around time.


For those of you that do not know, Keepsake DNA was founded by Betty Porter. The Porter family had become increasingly frustrated in finding DNA testing labs that could/would process their heirloom samples (envelopes from family members, jewelry, watches, clothing etc.) for Genetic Genealogy research.


Intermountain Forensics does not typically work with personal clients and instead focuses on law enforcement, public crime laboratories and the defense community (innocence project, criminal defense lawyers, public defenders etc.).


When we heard what Keepsake DNA was trying to do and the difficulties they had run into, the IMF laboratory agreed to contract with Keepsake DNA to run these difficult samples through our specialized workflow designed to work with older, limited and sometimes degraded DNA samples.


IMF first began "Phase I" processing for Keepsake DNA. We would extract the DNA sample and provide quantification of the amount and quality of that DNA and consult on what to do next get a Genetic Genealogy profile. Unfortunately, the options for developing a Genetic Genealogy profile from these samples were still VERY limited. When Intermountain Forensics validated and implemented the Verogen Kintelligence Genetic Genealogy kit (https://verogen.com/products/forenseq-kintelligence-kit/), we offered this as a service to Keepsake DNA while they searched desperately for another lab to help them with more options on these difficult samples. Kintelligence is a GREAT tool and works well on difficult samples, but sometimes Keepsake DNA clients required deeper relationship information to identify extended members of their genetic family line. With consultation from IMF, Keepsake DNA chose Discovery Life Sciences (specifically a division of this group called Hudson Alpha) to do their deeper sequencing (whole genome sequencing). Having experience with forensic samples, this appeared to be a great option for Keepsake clients. Unfortunately, Hudson Alpha's primary focus was not forensic samples and thus, turn around times for processing was quite long (e.g. samples submitted in November 2021/January 2022 are just now being completed).


To add insult to injury, Hudson Alpha has subsequently made the difficult decision to no longer do forensic sequencing and as such, Keepsake DNA no longer had a source for whole genome sequencing laboratory processing.


It was at this time, Intermountain Forensics began implementation of our own, in-house, forensic whole genome sequencing (WGS) with the exciting purchase of our Illumina Novaseq 6000. This quickly seemed like an obvious partnership opportunity for the increasingly frustrated Keepsake DNA staff. As the partnership discussions continued, we realized that IMF would now be, essentially, running the vast majority of all Keepsake DNA operations, from the sample receipt, handling, DNA laboratory processing and reporting of these samples.


The IMF team also were happy to learn that Betty Porter wasn't in this for the money. She just wanted to help! Spending time with her, you can obviously see how dedicated she is to helping others people overcome the same frustrations she had in wanting to learn more about the DNA of her own family. Our shared passion and synergistic workflows made this a "match made in heaven".


At that point, it seemed obvious that a deeper partnership would significantly benefit both Keepsake DNA and Intermountain Forensics. To facilitate this, Intermountain Forensics has purchased Keepsake DNA from Betty Porter, absorbed the Keepsake DNA staff and will begin processing and supporting both mission statements from here forward. This allows us to ensure Keepsake DNA clients and management will no longer have concerns about how/who/when their samples would be processed. That's what we've been working on and we're excited to finally be able to announce it's ready to roll!


We have one more announcement to share. As this purchase was finalized, Betty has decided to retire in the confidence that her mission will live on. We wish her well and promise to take good care of what she started and the people that support Keepsake DNA's mission! To Keepsake DNA Clients: Welcome! Please feel free to take a look at who we are and what we do! I know, from what I understand, you have been patient and are probably pretty frustrated at the path that has taken us to this point. I hope you can see how hard Betty worked to make this happen and the increasing frustrations that occurred as options dwindled and external forces made things more and more difficult. I'll ask for just a bit more patience as we finalize the validation and implementation of our forensic DNA sequencing in our laboratory. We expect our first casework whole genome sequencing runs will happen in July/August of this year and, simply put, that makes turn around times for Keepsake DNA clients now measured in weeks, not months and even years.


We want to help!


Most importantly, we feel that assisting Keepsake DNA will ensure both Keepsake DNA clients AND Intermountain Forensics clients will benefit from this partnership. Simply put, we need to ensure we have enough samples before we can run the crazy expensive instrument, the Novaseq 6000, that runs whole genome sequencing process. This will lower our "batch building" time and get results to our clients quicker.


Additionally, the more samples we can run, the less expensive the samples get! Over time, we expect our costs (and thus our pricing as a non-profit) to go down. We are hoping that we can make this expensive process more financially viable for both IMF mission clients as well as keepsake DNA's personal clients.


This transition will still take a bit of time and I'm working on getting up to speed. But in the end, this is a "win-win" situation and we're excited to start running some genetic genealogy samples!!


Please feel free to contact me if there are any questions. For Keepsake DNA clients, please use danny@keepsakeDNA.com. I'm happy to chat with you!


Let's do this!

-Danny

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