DNASolves Review | 5 Things You Should Know Before Using
The study of genetic genealogy has been on many minds in recent years - since it was first used to solve the Golden State Killer case in 2018. That same year, Othram was founded and started the DNASolves database.
Though genetic genealogy is typically a method used to track familial relationships, it has led to a huge advancement in forensic science. Previously, police had to match unknown DNA samples directly to a suspect in custody. Now, a genetic genealogist can take an unknown DNA sample and find exactly which family it belongs to. With a little regular police work, this often leads to a viable suspect.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are now using this technique - from the FBI down to local sheriff’s departments. Last year alone, dozens of cold cases were solved across the country. You may have heard of Parabon Nanolabs or Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore - big names in the genetic genealogy world that have become famous for solving cold case murders using DNA data.
In fact, recent surveys have indicated that the majority of Americans are willing to share their DNA data with law enforcement agencies. A Pew Research Study found that 51% of Americans approve of police using DNA databases to find leads. In fact, stories in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have shown that often it is a distant cousin who can help uncover a lead in a cold case murder, rape, or other violent crime. The technique has been very effective - and your contribution could help!
If you want to contribute to crime-solving, read below to learn how your DNA sample data can be added to DNASolves - a database specifically for law enforcement. Plus, you may want to take note of exactly who is benefiting from your contribution, as law enforcement benefits only indirectly.
DNASolves is very unique among DNA upload companies. We have reviewed DNASolves below, in our standard format to make comparisons between companies easy!
1. About the Company
2. How to Contribute to DNASolves
5. Best Alternatives to DNASolves
1. About The Company
Company Name: Othram, Inc. (Operating as DNASolves)
Foundation Year: 2018
Location: Houston, Texas
Website: Othram.com (DNASolves.com - for database upload)
Othram started with the idea that genetic genealogy could be a very useful tool in law enforcement. While DNA data is often collected at a crime scene, it rarely has a perfect match in the FBI’s CODIS database. However, everyone is related to someone. Using family trees built from DNA evidence, police are identifying potential suspects in places as different as Idaho and California - all across the United States!
District attorneys or police departments can contact Othram directly and Othram has already solved cases in places like Florida and New York. By comparing unknown samples to an entire database of known samples, genetic genealogists can not only identify people the sample is related to but in some cases, they are able to use public records databases to completely uncover a person’s identity. The entire purpose of DNASolves.com is to provide Othram with this database so they can sell forensic genetic genealogy services to law enforcement agencies.
Othram does not have forensic laboratories, per se. Instead, crime labs around the country can sequence and upload a DNA sample, which Othram will then compare with the database. Othram uses advanced statistical and genealogical techniques to produce as narrow of a lead as possible. As its DNA database gets larger, Othram will become more and more accurate and the potential of genealogy databases for human identification will increase.
2. How to Contribute to DNASolves
If you would like to contribute your DNA data to DNASolves, it’s easy!
First, get a DNA test! Though DNASolves does not offer any sort of test at the moment, they accept data uploads from most major DNA testing companies.
Then, head over to DNASolves.com to create an account and upload your data.
That’s it! Your DNA data is now being used to aid law enforcement.
Essentially, after your DNA data is in the database, Othram will compare your DNA to all of the unknown samples they are investigating. Genetic genealogists analyze the DNA profiles related to violent crimes and are sometimes able to provide crime labs with a potential subject to investigate.
Othram is hoping to analyze crime scene DNA from violent crimes, sexual assault, and unknown rapist cases all over the world - from the United Kingdom to Utah. Though serial killers may not be in a DNA database themselves, their distant cousins might be. Even decades-old cold cases of first-degree murder can pretty easily be solved by a cold-case detective and genetic testing.
However, unlike some other sites that provide you access to more information about your DNA, DNASolves provides no reports or analyses. To our knowledge, they do not even notify you if your DNA data is closely involved with a case, or if your data was crucial to solving a crime. Further, you may want to consider that contributing to the database may make you the distant relative that leads someone to the death penalty. So, contributing your DNA should not be done lightly.
You should also know that Othram is a for-profit, privately-owned company. They are not giving police officers access to this information for free, so tax-payers are essentially funding this service when police departments choose to hire Othram. That may or may not affect your decision to use DNASolves.
Unfortunately, DNASolves has no reviews online - mainly because it does not offer a product and there is nothing to review. You will not get “DNA results” or any type of analysis of your family members.
DNASolves is not a product, and it does not cost. It is a private database maintained by Othram, Inc., used to provide forensic services to law enforcement agencies.
When you sign up with DNASolves, Othram agrees that your DNA data will not be sold or given to any third-party companies, including research organizations. However, it will explicitly be used to help law enforcement agencies in any way it can.
People with the sole intention of contributing their DNA data to a law enforcement specific platform are probably pleased, but it’s unclear how effective this method will ultimately be. You should definitely see our section below on some common alternatives - some sites at least offer you some analyses for contributing your DNA.
DNASolves provides no actual product to DNA uploaders. It only sells services to law enforcement agencies. DNASolves is simply a place to support law enforcement agencies and help them solve difficult criminal investigations using DNA technology.
Contrary to some internet user’s beliefs, donating your DNA data to DNASolves is not the same as donating your DNA directly to law enforcement. Police departments will still have to pay Othram to have an unknown sample from a crime scene analyzed. Othram is hoping to use genealogy databases to process crime scene DNA from violent crimes.
5. Best Alternatives to DNASolves
To support Othram, Inc. - and their mission to provide leads to law enforcement - you can upload your DNA data to DNASolves. However, DNASolves does not actually provide DNA analysis. DNASolves won’t be able to tell you anything about your DNA, and will use your DNA data to sell genetic genealogy services to police departments looking to solve cold cases.
If your only goal is to support law enforcement, this is a viable option. Just realize that Othram (through DNASolves) is making money by charging police departments to search for a criminal or victim in the database. At GEDmatch, this is the same model - but you at least get access to loads of information.
GEDmatch.com is a great alternative to DNASolves. Now owned by Verogen (a forensic investigation company), GEDmatch originated as a free genealogy resource for amateurs and professionals alike. With GEDmatch you can get a detailed analysis of what other users you are related to, and you can also opt-in to letting law enforcement access your data.
If donating your data to forensic companies seems unfair and a bit dystopian, most other companies work on a “subpoena” basis. Though the companies must comply with a court-ordered subpoena, their databases are not typically open to law enforcement officials.
Plus, these companies specialize in connecting you to the science behind DNA and can tell you about health, lifestyle, and wellness traits related to the genes you carry!
Genomelink - get 25 traits for free when you upload your data, plus over 170 traits with a subscription.
Promethease - acts like a literature retrieval system, connecting you to all the scientific literature that has been published on your specific genetic variants, with reports starting at $12.
To find more DNA upload sites that cover a huge variety of traits, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"