Assisting in Identifying 9/11 Victims


By John Ryan, Senior Vice President of Lab Operations

On September 11th, 2001 the lives of all Americans were forever changed.

A little known part of this national tragedy was the role that Myriad Genetics played in helping to identify the victims of this disaster and in the healing of our nation. Myriad provided genotyping assistance to the New York City Coroner’s Office to help identify the victims and bring closure to their families.

A dedicated team of Myriad molecular biologists, and informatics experts specializing in sample processing and kinship analysis, the team worked with the New York State Police (NYSP), Forensic Laboratory. We first made contact with the NYSP on September 12. They were confident in our capabilities and coordinated our introduction and working relationship with the New York City, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. We received our first samples within a week, and began a more than two-year partnership.

Over the course of this partnership, Myriad Genetics received and processed over 20,000 samples from the World Trade Center. This included both reference specimens (buccal swab and personal effects) and victim samples. Our dedication to this mission resulted in hundreds of victims being identified.

Of the many Myriad Genetics teammates involved with this mission, 70 are still working in our labs and other organizations. They include:

Victor Abkevich, Rebecca Barton, Paula Bettridge, Lynn Anne Burbidge, Patrick Burke, Yuri Chan, Sonia Chen, Judy Chung, Daniel Clark, Angela Conde, Michelle Cowan, Christina Davenport, Thaylon Davis, Amie Deffenbaugh, Susan Downs, Lisa FitzGerald, Michael Francis, Debbie Geis, Stephen George, Marco Geronimo, Erik Gomez, Debbie Gonzales, Alexander Gutin, Natalia Gutin, Phuong Ha, Lisa Havili, Fabiola Hermansen, Chris Ho, Diana Iliev, Srikanth Jammulapati, Rebecca Jensen, Nilanthi King, Jason Klein, Alexei Kousmine, Nicole Lambert, Huong Le, Benoit Leclair, Mark McKellar, Jeff Mitchell, Jennnifer Murphy, Chris Neff, Steve Nellessen, Kelly Nielsen, Kathy Oyler, Rick Pennell, Scott Petersen, Paula Poglajen, Valery Potekhin, Jennifer Potter, Dmitry Pruss, Diana Raitt, Dale Russell, John Ryan, David Skidmore, Sara Snell, Wendy Sorensen, Brad Swedlund, David Teng, Victor Thompson, Kirsten Timms, Sheila Towne, Kirsten Trahan, Thanh Tran, Yekaterina Voronkova, Susanne Wagner, Barbara Walker, Bryan Wardell, Mark Wolf, Katrina Woodruff, Tyson Yates, Faith Zaslavsky, Andrey Zharkikh

On the twentieth anniversary of September 11, we remember the victims and their families, and recognize all those who answered the call to help.

To learn more, see the September 2006 “Lessons Learned From 9/11: DNA Identification in Mass Fatality Incidents” from the President’s DNA Initiative: https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/214781.pdf