"When a law enforcement officer starts down that road (to identifying a body), there are a lot of obstacles in the way," said George Adams, one of two program managers for the center's Forensic Services Unit. "We have a whole network of resources that will open doors for them."
One way for families of missing persons to provide help is to ask their local law enforcement agency to refer them to the center to provide their own DNA profile, Adams said.
The center can take a family member's DNA and add it to multiple databases across the country, including the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Computer programs alert investigators if a DNA profile from a body indicates a relationship with a profile submitted by a family member.
"If you had a wagon wheel, we would be the hub," Adams said about the center.