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DNA Study Begins

(Posted on 18/02/14)

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DNA Study Begins

Academic Research is currently being undertaken in complex DNA profiles and partial matches.  This work came out of discussions at Inside Justice about the difficulties with partial matches and the reliability of this evidence.  The study will examine how scientists interpret partial DNA profiles and whether they approach this difficult work in a uniform way, coming up with uniform answers if they are from different labs or different sites.

The work is led by Inside Justice panellist Tracy Alexander in collaboration with King’s College London and University College London and will form the basis of her doctoral thesis.

Regular discussions on this work take place at Advisory Panel meetings.  The update to the panel meeting in October 2012 was as follows:

The DNA study forming the basis of the PhD noted in last year's report continues apace. There is now the added advantage that with the closure of the Forensic Science Service many biologists have transferred to other forensic providers making the study of techniques and interpretation guidelines much more accessible and more easily comparable. 

A second paper on "cell-free" DNA following on from the King's paper of January 2011 awaits approval from the MPS and thereafter publication which should shed further light on the major issues accompanying third party contamination. Tracy is a member of British Academy of Forensic Sciences (lowering the average age by 20 years) and the first chapter of her PhD is due to be published in the prestigious Springer encylopoedia in October. It is hoped that with the support of the Chief Scientists of the major forensic providers in the UK the Forensic Regulator will formally address the major problems of DNA contamination and the lack of harmonisation in interpretation guidelines