Bode Technology CEO Mike Cariola discusses the company’s forensic services

For more than 25 years, Bode Technology, based in Lorton, has served the law enforcement and identification markets to provide state-of-the-art human DNA analysis and innovative DNA collection products. CEO Mike Cariola talked to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority about the company’s forensic services and technologies, including its role in identifying the victims of the 9/11 attack in New York City. Cariola also discussed how Bode pivoted its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reasons why Fairfax County is an outstanding location for the company.

FCEDA: What does Bode Technology do?

Cariola: Bode primarily does forensic DNA analysis and provides collection products to the law-enforcement community and other entities in the criminal-justice system. The primary service that we offer is conducting DNA analysis on criminal casework, sexual assault, homicide, and property crimes. Over the last five years we have conducted DNA analysis on over 50,000 sexual-assault kits, and every month we report about 2,000 sexual-assault kits to 20 to 30 law-enforcement agencies around the United States.

FCEDA: When was the company established and where?

Cariola: Bode Technology was established in 1995. We’ve continuously been in Northern Virginia for the entire 25 years. We’ve moved around a little bit, starting initially in Sterling then Springfield and for the past 13 years we’ve been in  Lorton.

FCEDA: What are the main DNA forensic services that your company provides?

Cariola: We have a fully operational, fully accredited crime laboratory here in Fairfax County in Lorton. Every month we conduct DNA analysis and record over 2,500 criminal cases. In addition to our traditional laboratory services here we provide rapid DNA analysis. A traditional case that we run through the lab may take days or weeks to process, but rapid DNA could be done in a matter of minutes, kind of like you may see on “CSI.” It’s been a recent innovation that we’ve adopted.

We also provide forensic genealogy services where we conduct DNA analysis and utilize public databases to try to determine ancestry and related individuals to a crime scene sample and from there go into deep investigative services to help law enforcement.

And finally, we also conduct a significant amount of DNA analysis on human remains. We are well-known throughout the world for our ability to obtain DNA from human remains. We were involved back in post 9/11 with conducting DNA analysis on all the human remains from World Trade Center. And that really established us and our techniques to assist other entities around the world and in the United States.

FCEDA: How was Bode involved with the 9/11 investigations?

Cariola: Bode was heavily involved in the processing of human remains from the World Trade Center disaster. After 9/11, we traveled to New York City, just a month later in October, and began work. For the next two years we are continuously processing all of the human remains that were recovered there. We tested thousands of remains. Our entire company was there. We shut down most of our business to focus on the testing of human remains from 9/11. We developed new techniques. We evolved our procedures too, and went through constant rounds of testing to remains to try to help identify the missing. We contributed to hundreds of identifications from the World Trade Center attack.

FCEDA: What would you consider the most innovative aspect of your company?

Cariola: Bode Technology strives to be on the leading edge of forensic science. We have two distinct research and development groups. One focuses on research. We are constantly pushing the envelope on research, for example to obtain DNA from more difficult materials, or to obtain DNA from a fingerprint–really pushing the limits of technology. Currently, we’re involved with research efforts to be able to separate mixtures of DNA when there are five or six individuals in one DNA sample. We’re involved with research using software to de-convolute or to separate out all the contributors to that mixture.

We also have a more applied research group. There are incremental changes to improve the field of forensic science and we have a dedicated team that’s constantly evaluating new technologies. It may not be the most earth-shattering change, but a technology that gives us better results on bones, that maybe gives us a 10 percent improvement on sensitivity, which is critically important to our work. And every month, every year, we are hoping to stay one step ahead to give the best results that we can to our customers.

FCEDA: Describe how your services have been used all over the world.

Cariola: Bode is world-renowned for our ability to obtain DNA from challenge samples, in particular human remains, obtaining DNA from bones that are from recovered remains from the 1950s and 60s, for example, because challenging the soil has an incredible impact on the environment on DNA. So as a result of the procedures that our company has developed, we’ve been involved in identification efforts throughout the world. Argentina, Cyprus, Peru, Guatemala and Mexico have all been involved in identification efforts that date back to the 1950s and ’60s.

Over the last five years alone, Bode has tested more than 50,000 sexual assault kits to help clear the nation’s backlog of untested kits. (Photo courtesy of Bode Technology)

FCEDA: What has been the most gratifying use of your company’s technologies?

Cariola: I think the most gratifying part of working with Bode throughout the years is the constant evolution of the science and technology and applying that to matters that are incredibly important to the community to be able to help eliminate backlogs of sexual-assault kits around the country. For example, in July the state of Virginia announced that they had eliminated their backlog of well over 2,000 sexual assault kits. The procedures that we’re using every day are having an immediate impact to help identify serial rapists and other offenders and provide closure to victims.

FCEDA: What makes Fairfax County a great location for your business?

Cariola: Bode employs over 200 employees, with over 150 scientists, technologists, and DNA analysts working right here in Fairfax County. Fairfax County is such a great place for finding talented technologists coming out of school that want to work here. George Mason University has been a great place for hiring, as is the George Washington University, other universities in Virginia and also across the United States. It’s a place that graduating students want to come and we’ve never had problems finding just the best of the best. Basically, the most talented students around the country will come to work here. It’s never really been an issue. And that makes Fairfax County a great location.

The other aspect of that is working with federal agencies. We do a good amount of research and development for federal agencies that are located in the Washington, D.C., area and proximity to them means a lot.

Find out more about Bode Technology at www.bodetech.com.

October 8, 2020