|MadSci Network: Molecular Biology|
Dear Shivalika, You have set very high goals. I've thought quite a lot about your question and unfortunately, I have to tell you that it would be nearly impossible for you to obtain a profile, even using the equipment at a university lab; at least not how we do it in a crime laboratory. The equipment and reagents that we use to obtain a profile (13 loci) are hundreds of thousands of dollars and the analysts train for a year. It's not quite as simple as it appears on TV. Rather than leave you discouraged, I browsed the internet and found some sites that have projects that are more attainable. An excellant project can be found at http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/AEC/AEF/1995/mayo_dna.html. Another excellant project that I've recommended to students can be found at: http://www.biology.arizona.edu/human_bio/activities/blackett2/overview.html These are ways to study and explain DNA without the tremendous cost of reagents and equipment. If you are determined to obtain a DNA profile from an envelope, perhaps you can contact the South Carolina State Crime Laboratory and check to see whether they would accept a student as an intern or show you how samples are analyzed. I hope this helps and good luck with your project. Sincerely, Dale L. Laux Forensic Scientist
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