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Released August 23, 2004

HATTIESBURG -- A forensics instructor at The University of Southern Mississippi and a histology technician at Forrest General Hospital are spending the week at the National Forensic Show in St. Louis, where the duo hope to find buyers for a special kit they've developed.

Southern Miss' Dean Bertram and Forrest General's Kim Wright will be in St. Louis the week of Aug. 23-27 to market their product, a chemical solution that makes it easier for coroners to revive fingerprints and identify dead bodies. The kit is produced by Biocare Medical of Walnut Creek, Calif., through an agreement with Noetic Technologies Inc., a company created for entrepreneurs at Southern Miss.

"We will be displaying the kits at the convention and Dean will be teaching workshops," said Wright, adding that the kits will be aimed at crime labs and law enforcement agencies. "Vendors from across the country are there. The products are advertised in magazines and catalogs, and we're hoping to get them to look at ours."

The inventors of the solution were paid a technology fee for their intellectual property and will receive a percentage of future sales, as will the university, Noetic president and CEO Dr. Les Goff said.

"These are the type of opportunities Noetic Technologies was created to produce," Goff said. "I must say that Dean and Kim are the type of inventors and entrepreneurs that we need. Through their curiosity and hard work, they pushed to make this happen."

The project came together after Wright started brainstorming about other potential uses for a buffer salt solution she was using at the time to test tumors. Wright approached Bertram about the forensic possibilities of the solution, and the two soon began doing research together.

Bertram and Wright tested the product on themselves, purposefully drying their skin and applying the solution to see if it would reinvigorate their skin cells, which it did. "The solution works great for enhancing tumors, so I had an idea this would help in fingerprinting," Wright said.

The benefits of the solution are many, Bertram said. "It's nontoxic, so you can use it at the scene of a crime, in the field or in a lab."

Bertram said the solution could be used to identify a decomposed body when the fingerprints are too shriveled to lift. "We can soak the hand in the solution and bring up ridge details (in the fingers) to the point where they can get a print. That way, if you have their prints in a data bank somewhere, they can be identified," he said.


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September 8, 2004 5:18 PM