Dr. Richard Selden, MD, PhD is the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Scientific Officer of ANDE, the developer of Rapid DNA technology.
Dr. Selden is at the forefront of some of today’s most transformative initiatives to improve societal safety–crime reduction, family reunification, exoneration of the innocent, and more — all based on the new field of Rapid DNA Identification. Through his position at ANDE, Dr. Selden collaborates with a variety of federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security. For more than a decade, he has listened to their operational needs and requirements and worked to build a system that would meet or exceed them.
A major reason that the ANDE team succeeded where others failed was Dr. Selden’s philosophy to start with the ideal properties of a Rapid DNA system from the user’s standpoint and then build a system that possessed these properties. Others took the opposite approach–to try to take some existing technology and find applications that could use that technology. But pioneering technology requires vision and the confidence that something fundamentally new and unexpected can be created to meet a long-felt unmet need.
DNA technologies have developed over the past 70 years, but they have always been confined to the laboratory. Dr. Selden realized that the obstacles to performing DNA analysis outside the lab were self-imposed: complex, laborious, and time-consuming processes that required sophisticated scientists and laboratory equipment. But just as information technology moved from supercomputer laboratories to smart phones over the course of decades, Dr. Selden saw that DNA analysis could move from laboratories to the field. He coined the term “Rapid DNA” and decided to focus on its application to human forensic identification. Rapid DNA identification makes it possible to break the cycle of repeated violence that has plagued our society. Solving murders and sexual assaults while exonerating the innocent has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands–and perhaps millions–of people in the United States.
Dr. Selden is driven by the possibilities of Rapid DNA identification in field-forward biometric and forensic applications. Even today, the conventional process of forensic DNA identification requires the transport of samples to police stations and then to laboratories, where experienced personnel perform complex procedures in order to generate DNA profiles. Despite the often time-sensitive nature of situations in which DNA analysis is required, results can take weeks, months, or even years to emerge.
ANDE’s Rapid DNA Identification system, in contrast, delivers actionable intelligence directly to the response site in real time, requires minimal user manipulation, and is operable by non-technical users. The fully automated and integrated field-deployable system rapidly generates human DNA fingerprints from a wide range of sample types. Whether ANDE is used for victim identification, family reunification, criminal forensics, or protection of borders and ports, it allows for swift and accurate conclusions that will drive a safer, more connected, and just society.
Rapid DNA technology has been increasingly recognized by government entities as a turning point in the identification of criminal offenders. The Supreme Court has ruled that collecting DNA from arrestees is constitutional, and over 30 states already have relevant arrestee laws. The Rapid DNA Act of 2016, which would allow and standardize the implementation of Rapid DNA instruments in police stations, was unanimously approved by the Senate and by the House Judiciary Committee. Finally, the recent approval of ANDE’s Rapid DNA Analysis System by the National DNA Index System (NDIS) of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) indicates a growing acceptance of the power of Rapid DNA technology. ANDE is the first and only Rapid DNA Product to receive NDIS approval.