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FGH histologist teams with USM prof for better fingerprints

Making better impressions has led to business entrepreneurship for Kimberly Wright, who heads Forrest General Hospital’s histotechnology laboratory. A good idea that grew out of her work experience and research has blossomed into not just a patent, but a business called KDL Solutions (www.kdlsolutions.biz) to market products that enhance fingerprint identification.

A histologist prepares slides of human tissue removed from the body to be evaluated by a pathologist to assess conditions such as cancer. Wright, who has 27 years’ experience as a histologist, teamed on the project with a forensic science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), Dean Bertram, and Dr. Les Goff, president of Noetic Technologies, a non-profit foundation that works to commercialize technology developed at USM.

The company now has two products for sale by the company Evident Crime Scene Products (www.evidentcrimescene.com).

“This product works remarkably well to re-hydrate and clarify existing ridge details in fingerprints, bringing a higher level of clarity for all fingerprint subjects,” said Michael Grimm Jr., vice president of Evident Inc. “We have had great results with it. We think it is an excellent product. We have had a very good response from the forensic community. It is becoming more adopted and accepted.”

The product is sprayed on the subject’s hand prior to fingerprinting, and helps hydrate the tissue so that details of the fingerprint stand out better.

“Our product is non-toxic and doesn’t harm the skin,” Wright said. “Other products out there have a lot of alcohol in them that dries out the skin. Ours is non-toxic and gives a smooth, soft effect. It enhances the quality of the print.”

Some people such as cement or construction workers have rough hands that can leave ridges somewhat distorted. Wright said the solution relaxes the skin to reveal the second layer of skin that has a full detailed print. The product can also be used post-mortem to rehydrate tissue. It was used after Hurricane Katrina to help identify victims of the storm.

“The I.D. Enhancer Spray is ideally suited for living subjects, but may also be used on deceased subjects,” Evident says in product literature. “I.D. Enhancer Spray can be used on all your ‘difficult’ printing tasks, as well as for routine fingerprinting.”

Beginning the journey

Wright’s journey to development of the product began when she gave a poster session at a histology conference in California a few years ago. She had done research on a solution that would enhance fingerprint detail by hydrating and relaxing tissues in the skins. She needed a reference for her work, and so contacted Bertram. Intrigued, he invited her to do additional research with him.

Bertram was impressed by Wright’s work. They collaborated on testing, which took several years.

“That ended up with the university helping me to patent my idea,” Wright said. “Through Dean Bertram, I met Dr. Les Goff, who helped push the patent through.

“Then we decided to form a company to market the products. KDL Solutions has an initial from each of our names, Kim, Dean and Les. Through Dr. Goff’s ideas and expertise, we found a company that would market our product and get it out to the forensic field. He helped our marketing strategy. He also educated me personally about what business was like, the channels to become a business person. Now the product has been in marketing for a year, and we have gotten several companies and police departments that are using our products. It has branched out from a kit to mists and sprays. Now we are getting those on the market. Our kit and forensic sprays have been tested at different forensic shows at the national and regional level.”

Expansion opportunities

Wright sees a lot of avenues for the company to expand. She thinks the products will be particularly valuable for “cold” forensic cases because bones, teeth and tissue samples can be soaked in the solution without harming any DNA.

She also sees applications in banks for fingerprint identification for cashing a check and for other types of security applications.

Goff anticipates in the future the company will become more of a service company doing forensic testing. Plans are being set up with the research foundation and the university to do that.

“You’ll see that late summer or early fall,” Goff said. “Also, we’re looking at other technologies in forensics and possibly outside of forensics. We are expanding into the services and continuing to develop further technologies.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.

About Becky Gillette

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