New Forensic Technologies at 2012 International Symposium on Human Identification Features
13 Sep 2012

Forensic DNA professionals confront many challenges: cold case investigations, DNA backlogs and new applications like rapid DNA and kinship DNA testing. The 23rd International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) presents forensic professionals with an opportunity to learn about these and other developing forensic DNA technologies alongside fellow scientists, law enforcement professionals and forensic experts. This year's ISHI will be held October 15-18 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

As the largest conference on DNA analysis for human identification, the symposium attracts more than 800 DNA analysts and forensic scientists from around the world, providing these professionals an opportunity to explore and debate the latest research, technologies and ethical issues in the industry today. This year's presenters and topics include:

Author and Educator Douglas Starr
Co-director of Boston University's graduate program in Science and Medical Journalism and author of Gold Dagger award-winning book The Little Killer of Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science, Starr is this year's keynote speaker. In his latest book, Starr tells the story of forensic science's 19th century pioneers and the notorious serial killer they caught and convicted using their new scientific techniques. Winner of the Gold Dagger award in the U.K. and a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe award in the U.S., the book received laudatory reviews, including an "Editor's Choice" listing in the New York Times Book Review and a place on the True Crime Bestseller lists of the Wall Street Journal and Library Journal.

SNA International Founder Amanda Sozer
SNA International lends expertise to forensic labs and mass fatality identification projects. Founder and President Amanda Sozer, who received recognition for her outstanding efforts during 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, will be leading a workshop on forensic science and human rights at ISHI. The workshop will include speakers who have worked on human rights projects as well as a presentation on the AAAS Guidelines for Scientists and Human Rights Organizations, developed by a group of collaborating scientists and representatives of human right organizations. The guidelines are designed to be helpful to those establishing science and human rights partnerships and to facilitate and promote cooperation between scientists and human rights organizations seeking scientific expertise.

Sequencing the Black Death Genome: Hendrik Poinar
Hendrik Poinar and his colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada developed a technique to find and sequence the Black Death genome using the skeletal remains of its victims. The possibility of environmental contamination was high. To address this, Poinar and his team extracted the DNA using a molecular "probe" made from a modern strain of DNA, testing this new technique on approximately 100 samples of teeth and bone excavated from a London plague pit. The result was a strain of Y. pestis unlike any known today: the Black Death. Poinar will share details of this process during his talk at ISHI .

Workshops: DNA Backlog Reduction, Cold Case Investigative Techniques
As forensic professionals well know, shows like CSI get it all wrong. From analyzing cold case evidence, with its potential for contamination, to backlogs and budgets, forensic work is fraught with challenges that are easily glossed over on today's crime TV dramas. At ISHI, the "Putting the Heat on Cold Cases " workshop will help real-life cold case investigators learn how to identify and evaluate cold cases, including how to initiate, fund and process these cases using best practices for evidence testing. Lab personnel that have successfully eliminated DNA backlogs will share success stories and techniques during the "How to Tackle a DNA Backlog" workshop.

Visit the symposium website to register now!

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