Next-generation genetic techniques explored at upcoming conference to celebrate 30 year anniversary of discovery of DNA fingerprinting

Posted by ap507 at Apr 13, 2015 11:19 AM |
University of Leicester event to explore the changing world of forensic science research on Wednesday 15 April

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 13 April

  • Conference to explore next-generation genetic techniques and how these can be applied to criminal investigations, paternity tests, conservation of the human species and more
  • One talk will focus on the use of DNA in the identification of the remains of King Richard III and how this was combined with osteological, historical and genealogical sources
  • The conference comes just after the ITV drama Code of a Killer airs, which features actors John Simm and David Threlfall in a dramatised version of the first ever murder enquiry solved using Professor Jeffreys’s DNA identification technique

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the landmark discovery and application of DNA fingerprinting by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the University of Leicester is to host a conference sharing new innovations in forensic science on Wednesday 15 April.

The conference, entitled ‘New Frontiers in Forensics: Innovation and interdisciplinarity 30 years after Jeffreys’s eureka moment’ will explore how the world of forensic science has changed in the last three decades, including examining new technologies, emerging methods and vital interdisciplinary research being conducted by forensic science experts from across the Alec Jeffreys Forensic Science Institute at the University of Leicester.

New innovations from the Institute that will be discussed include breakthroughs in DNA research, cold case investigation, violent crime and forensic pathology and modern research into fingerprinting.

Professor Robert Hillman from the University of Leicester’s Department of Chemistry, who is organising the event, said: “This event celebrates a discovery that has transformed the investigation of criminal cases and the establishment of identity in both criminal and civil contexts. It expresses the University’s continuing commitment to the future extension of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys’ legacy.”

The conference hopes to attract practitioners working in forensic science, police, Home Office, pathologists, industrial equipment suppliers, researchers, independent practitioners and members of Innovate UK and of forensic science networks.

The new Forensic Science Regulator will also be addressing the event, stressing the importance of collaboration between universities and forensic science practitioners.

The conference presentations include looking ahead to next-generation genetic techniques, allowing vastly improved speed and sensitivity, and the steps towards moving these techniques towards casework applications.  There will also be an exhibition featuring work supported by a major interdisciplinary EU grant, the INTREPID project.

A talk on use of DNA in the identification of the remains of King Richard III will consider how this was combined with osteological, historical and genealogical sources.

The conference will hear about latest developments in micro-computed x-ray tomography, which can generate high resolution 3D models of samples, with various forensic applications. The day finishes with two talks on new techniques for fingerprint analysis, before closing remarks are given.

In 1984, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys made the landmark discovery of the first genetic fingerprint. Professor Jeffreys’s work in the University of Leicester’s labs led to the discovery of the technique for genetic fingerprinting, which revealed a pioneering method of biological identification.

The technique identified the DNA variations in each human, which could be retrieved from hair, saliva and blood amongst other things, that makes each one of us unique.

The implications of the discovery were to become far-reaching and by 1985 DNA fingerprinting was used to solve the first immigration case, the first paternity case and the first identification of identical twins.

The discovery opened a whole new area of forensic science and has become integral to modern criminal investigations, crime scene analysis, paternity testing, twin studies, immigration disputes - especially where no documentary evidence existed - and conservation and diversity among non-human species.

The conference comes just after the ITV drama Code of a Killer airs, which features actors John Simm and David Threlfall in a dramatised version of the first ever murder enquiry solved using Professor Jeffreys’s DNA identification technique.

The event takes place on Wednesday 15 April at the University of Leicester in the Henry Wellcome Building in the Frank & Katherine May Lecture Theatre. It will run from 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Please visit http://www2.le.ac.uk/centres/forensic-science/events/NewFrontiers for more information.

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Professor Rob Hillman on arh7@leicester.ac.uk or Tristram Hughes on teh13@leicester.ac.uk

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