The idea of creating the Kinship and Data Analysis Panel (KADAP) to advise officials in the New York City medical examiner’s office after the 9/11 attacks originated with W. Mark Dale, director of Forensic Services for the New York State Police. When Dale realized that the number of World Trade Center victims and the condition of their remains would require an unprecedented DNA-based identification effort, he asked the National Institute of Justice to create a “brain trust” of independent scientists to offer guidance in this monumental task.

“I knew we were facing enormous management challenges,” Dale said. “The notion that we were to reassociate potentially hundreds of thousands of remains—let alone identify them by comparing their profiles to perhaps tens of thousands of kin and effects profiles—was beyond daunting. We needed human geneticists, statisticians, bioethicists, forensic DNA scientists/managers, genetic researchers, information technologists, database managers, and program managers—and we needed them fast.

The breadth of the combined experience of the KADAP members is stunning. The panel was comprised of scientists from the following agencies and universities: the National Institutes of Health Human Genome Research Institute, the FBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Informatics, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the New York State Police Department, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the University of Central Florida, Carleton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Indiana University, the University of North Texas, the University of California, Johns Hopkins University, and a number of private DNA laboratories.

Members of the private and public sectors also provided testimony to the panel that guided its recommendations. Early demonstrations of DNA matching software, developed for other mass fatality situations, were an important contribution. Input from the International Commission on Missing Persons in Bosnia, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which shared a special computer program that was used in the World Trade Center identification effort, was also invaluable.