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No updates on Sandy Hook shooter’s DNA

Controversy, confusion surrounds UConn geneticists’ quest to decode Adam Lanza’s genome

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 16:08

Although CNN, The Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times reported that UConn geneticists would be performing a study on the DNA of the Sandy Hook shooter, there has been confusion regarding who the geneticists are.

At the end of December, it was announced that UConn geneticist groups would be conducting a study on Adam Lanza’s DNA in order to find a possible clue at for what motivated Lanza to commit the Sandy Hook school shootings, according to a CNN article.

Opinion articles in news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, and The Atlantic Wire have questioned whether a study on Lanza’s DNA would yield meaningful results.

Linda D. Strausbaugh, the director of Center for Applied Genetics and Technology on the Storrs campus, has received numerous phone calls from different media outlets asking for more information on the study. However, Strausbaugh says that she has no idea why they would be calling her since she is not involved with the study. It is not clear when updates on the study will be announced.

Although there is a genetics lab on campus, the study will be taking place at the UConn Health Center in Farmington, according to the CNN article, and is not affiliated with Strausbaugh’s department. However, there have been no updates on the study reported from the health center. When asked about the study, many faculty members and representatives within the genetics department did not know of the study or return phone calls.

CNN, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post and other popular news mediums reported the story around the end of December, but there has been no follow-up stories or any word of recent discoveries. Carolyn Pennington, a spokesperson for the health center’s communications office, told CNN in late December that results for the DNA analysis would not be reported for several weeks.

Sohaib Qureshi, a Ph.D student in genetics, didn’t know too much about the study that is being conducted. However, he believes there are many aspects to look at when studying the sequences of Adam Lanza’s DNA.

“They would probably be looking at a difference in DNA base pair and a nucleotides sequence between his DNA and someone else’s DNA,” Qureshi said. “They are not only going to have to look at the DNA sequence but also the gene expression and look for differences between his specific gene and other humans so it’s just one part of the story. Sequencing the DNA is only going to tell you one particular part of the story because you could also look at protein expression and RNA expressions. It would be with this amount of information that could tell you the whole story whether there was something genetically distinguishable between him and somebody else.”

Anita Reddy, a 6th-semester molecular cell and biology major, also hadn’t heard much news on the DNA testing, but said there could be something constructive if there is a discovery.

“I think it could be useful [the study] obviously we don’t want this to happen again,” said Reddy. “If we can see on a genetic level what the difference is and where the abnormalities are, maybe we can prevent it one day.”

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