RDG Conference Report of Jae Joseph Russell B. Rodriguez

Write up about the Conference

The International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) is an association which aims to promote scientific knowledge of genetic markers of forensic relevance. ISFG organizes a congress every two years, usually in a European country. In 2013 the 25th World Congress was held in Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne Australia. During the first two days, workshops on various forensic topics such as evidence interpretation, disaster victim identification, and ancestry analysis were participated by DNA analysts and students from around the world. The congress was officially opened on September 3 by the keynote speech of the Father of DNA fingerprinting himself, Sir Alec Jeffrey. From September 4-6, the conference was graced by several keynote speeches of world leaders in the field. For example, Dr. Eske Wilerslev of the Centre for Geogenetics, Copenhagen, Denmark lectured on ancient DNA. Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge UK, updated on world Y-chromosomal DNA variation from whole-genome sequences. Dr. John Buckleton of ESR Ltd., New Zealand spoke about current statistical methods for DNA evidence interpretation. Several oral presentations on varied topics such as phenotyping, DNA extraction technologies, wildlife DNA, and body fluid identification were also given by scientist and students from around the world working on forensic DNA analysis. At the lobby were hundreds of research poster on diverse topics as well. The conference ended with a congress gala dinner where the delegates made new friendships and collaborations over beer and cocktails.

Feedback on paper presented

A number of delegates passed by my poster and asked questions mostly on the status of forensic DNA testing in the Philippines. Some calculations on the poster were based on some papers by Dr. Bruce Budowle of Texas. He went to my poster and affirmed my correct use of the formulas.

Future directions of research presented

The research presented is funded by the UPLB Office if the Vice Chancellor for Research under a Basic Research Program and is currently in Year 2 for the generation of the Y-chromosomal STR DNA data. Results generated during the first year have been submitted for publication in the journal Legal Medicine (Tokyo). In addition, whilst the paper reported genetic data from the Philippines general population, future research prospects by the UP Diliman DNA Analysis Laboratory will focus on other Philippine ethnolinguistic groups using the same genetic markers previously investigated.

Potential foreign collaborators

I was able to collaborate with Jo-Anne Bright of ESR Ltd., New Zealand, who was one of the developers behind a new software program for DNA mixture interpretation. I inquired about the possibility of using the statistical approach she and her colleagues developed since I was working on DNA mixtures for my master’s thesis on sexual assault DNA investigation. The advance software was not yet available during that time, so she agreed to analyzed them for me. A paper had since been written entitled, “DNA evidence interpretation for sexual assault cases in the Philippines; adopting a continuous model for mixture analysis”. and submitted to Forensic Science International.

Other important contacts and insights

Aside from being able to present some of my thesis results through a poster, I participated in a two-day workshop on basic Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation conducted by world leading personalities in forensic DNA analysis such as John Butler, Peter Gil, Michael Coble, John Buckleton, Jo-Anne Bright, and Duncan Taylor. Lectures were enormously helpful in the analysis of my master’s thesis results.

Short write-up of one’s participation (to be used to feature/publicize the grantee’s participation in the conference)

Faculty member from the Institute of Biological Sciences, UPLB attended 25th Congress of the International Society for Forensic Genetics.

The International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) is an international organization promoting scientific knowledge of genetic markers of forensic relevance. ISFG holds a world congress every two years. Last  2-7 September 2013, Jae Joseph Russell B. Rodriguez, Assistant Professor 1 at the Institute of Biological Sciences participated in the 25th World Congress of the ISFG held in Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne Australia. He together with Ms. Gayvelline Calacal, a senior DNA analyst from the DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute, UP Diliman were the Philippine delegates to the conference. Rodriguez attended a two-day workshop on Basic DNA Evidence Interpretation which included topics such as validation, DNA mixture interpretation, and population genetics. In addition, he presented some result of his master’s thesis in genetics through a poster entitled “An integrated STR database of the Philippine population: the genetic diversity of Filipinos at 23 aSTR and Y-STR DNA markers”. The conference tackled many diverse topics such as ancient DNA, population genetics, ancestry analysis, disaster victim identification, and statistical analyses through keynote speeches and lectures. The event was participated by budding scientists and world leaders alike in the field of forensic DNA analysis, including the father of DNA fingerprinting himself, Sir Alec Jeffreys.