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The role of DNA in forensics during COVID-19


The role of DNA in forensics during COVID-19


Law Enforcement Forensics | Forensics Labs | Investigations/ Research | Digital Forensics | Academia | Court Rooms and Criminal Law | Security

The role of DNA in forensics during COVID-19



After the success of our first and second Forensics Webinars, we invite you to attend our third installment in the series: The role of DNA in forensics during COVID-19.

The session will be moderated by the esteemed Professor Duarte Nuno Vieira and will focus on the importance and impact of forensic DNA surrounding the current pandemic.

Topics to be covered:

  • Biosafety measures in forensic laboratories that are needed during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic
  • Protocols for sample handling and storage that need to be re-evaluated
  • Negative effects of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on forensic casework and genetics research
  • Collaboration between different labs in terms of technical support and publications
  • DNA Analysis - The ultimate weapon in the battle against COVID-19
  • Recent market activity - global forensic technologies and services market growth and demand
  • Rising DNA sample analysis backlogs saddle crime labs
  • Questionable testing quality in laboratories
  • Exploring ArabGen Database


Webinar Participants



Chairman - Professor Duarte Nuno Vieira

Chairman - Professor Duarte Nuno Vieira

Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra University Centre for Humanitarian and Human Rights Forensic Research and Training & Ibero American Network of Forensic Sciences


Prof. Duarte Nuno Vieira is Full Professor (of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Sciences, Ethics and Medical Law) at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Beira Interior. He is presently visiting professor at the Universities of Belgrade (Servia), Xi´an Jiaotong (China), Kasturba Medical College (India), and as served, on a regular basis as lecturer and visiting professor, in several other European, African, Central and South American and Asian Universities, as well as at the University for Peace of the United Nations. He is Director of the Institute of Legal Medicine and of the Institute of Bioethics of the Faculty Medicine of the University of Coimbra.


He is Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Chairman of the Thematic Federation on Legal and Forensic Medicine of the European Union of Medical Specialists. He is also President of the Ibero-American Network of Forensic Sciences and Vice-President of the European Confederation of Experts on Evaluation and Repair of Bodily Injury. He is member of the Advising Committee of the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners and has been member of the Executive Committee of the Working Group in Forensic Pathology and Forensic Anthropology of the Permanent Committee of INTERPOL on Disaster Victim Identification. He is also member of the Advisory Board of the Portuguese National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and member of the Human Rights Resource Centre of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and President of the Ethics Committee of Hospital Luz Saúde Coimbra. He was founder of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Observatory on Human Rights and he acts as Executive Director of the Coimbra University Centre for Humanitarian and Human Rights Forensic Research and Training and member of the Executive Board of the Centre for Biomedical Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra


He has been President of the International Academy of Legal Medicine, of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, of the European Council of Legal Medicine, of the World Association of Police Medical Officers, of the Mediterranean Academy of Forensic Sciences and of the Latin American Association of Medical Law. He also has been Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra, President of the Portuguese National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, Director of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Coimbra and of his Service of Forensic Pathology, Chief Forensic Pathologist, President of the Portuguese Medico-Legal Council and of the Portuguese Association for Bodily Injury Assessment, among many others appointments.

He is Member of the International Forensic Advisory Board of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Member of the Forensic Expert Group of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. He works on a regular basis as temporary forensic consultant for the United Nations, mainly for UN OHCHR and UNODC.

He also has been member of the Portuguese National Council of Ethics for Life Sciences and of the National Commission for Civil Protection. He is Member of the Scientific Board of the European Institute of Training Evaluation and Repair of Bodily Injury of Paris and member of the group of expert reviewers of the European Science Foundation.


Prof. Vieira has published over 350 scientific papers, he is editor or co-editor of 13 books, and serves on the editorial boards of several international leading scientific publications of his area of medical expertise, as well has in the editorial boards of national forensic scientific journals from 18 different European, American, Asian, Meddle-East and African countries (Portugal, Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Turkey, Iran, India, Brazil, Romania, Egypt, Russia, Peru, Poland, Uruguay, Denmark, etc.). He is Chief-Executive Editor of the Journal of Forensic Research (edited by Taylor & Francis), International Associate Editor of the Spanish Journal of Legal Medicine (edited by Elsevier) and Chief-Editor of the Portuguese Journal of Personal Injury Assessment (edited by Coimbra University Press). He has given, as invited keynote speaker, more than 750 keynote lectures outside of Portugal, in countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, Meddle-East, Australasia, and of the entire American continent, and trainings courses in more than 30 different countries (namely on the Istanbul and on the Minnesota Protocols). He is author or co-author of more than 1.500 oral communications and posters presented in scientific events. He as supervised 15 PhD thesis and more than 60 Master thesis and he has been member of more than 150 academic juris in European, Asian, African, Meddle-East and South American universities (of Portugal, Spain, Romania, Ireland, China, Estonia, Jordan, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Greece, Brazil, Crete, etc.)

Prof. Vieira is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and member of numerous national and international forensic scientific associations, having received honorary fellowship from 18 universities, scientific associations and academies, from Europe, North, Central and South America, Africa and Asia, has been awarded with distinctions from different governments and municipalities, and has received 15 scientific prizes (he is, for example, Doctor Honoris causa by Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Iasi, Romania, Honorary Citizen of the City of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Honorary Member of the College of Pathologists of Sri Lanka, Honorary Member of the Medico-Legal Society of Panama, Honorary Member of the Medico-Legal Society of Cuba, Honorary Member of the Spanish Society of Personal Injury Assessment, Corresponding member of the Russian Association of Forensic Experts, Medal of the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, etc.). He his Academic (chair 11) of the Portuguese Academy of Medicine, Honorary Academic of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Granada (Spain), of the Academy of Medicine of Uruguay and Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Arts of Italy. He has been awarded by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, in 2014, with the Douglas Lucas Medal Award, the most prestigious international award in the area of legal and forensic medicine, and awarded, in 2020, with the Clyde Snow Human Rights Award and the Milton Helpern Award in Forensic Pathology. He has also been awarded with the title of Knight of the Royal Order of Nossa Senhora da Conceição and of Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Prof. Vieira has been president and organizer of the main international meetings in his area of expertise, and has been member of the organizing and scientific committees of more than 70 international congresses in countries of the 5 continents.

Prof. Vieira also participated in more than 45 international missions promoted by the International Amnesty, European Commission, International Red Cross, United Nations, USAID, etc., especially in the field of human rights, in countries from Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Australasia and Asia (Brazil, Iraq, Paraguay, Palestine, Nigeria, Moldova, Comoros, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Peru, Kirgizstan, Indonesia, Morocco, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Tajikistan, Switzerland, Papua New Guinea, East-Timor, Greece, Jordan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mexico, Macedonia, Ivory Coast, Poland, Palestine, Italy, Ukraine, Kenya, Argentina, Mauritania, Egypt, Mali, Ghana, Tunisia, Argentina, Tajikistan, Mauritania, Maldives, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Bahrain, Mozambique, Philippines, Serbia, etc.), and intervene as expert witness in legal proceedings, in countries from the European, American, African and Asian continents. Some of his main fields of work and research are personal injury assessment, the investigation and documentation of torture and ill-treatment, monitoring detention facilities, gender based violence and forensic services and forensic systems organization.

Panellist -  Professor Angel Carracedo        

Panellist -  Professor Angel Carracedo        

President of International Academy of Legal Medicine (IALM)

Dr. Angel Carracedo is professor of Legal Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine (University of Santiago de Compostela). He coordinates the Genomic Medicine research group at the USC, a research unit with more than 100 people working on medical applications of genomics. He is director of the Galician Foundation of Genomic Medicine (SERGAS, Galician Service of Health), director of the Spanish National Genotyping Center (PRB2-ISCIII) and group leader at the Centre for Biomedical Network Research on Rare Diseases (CIBERER).  Director of Kaertor Foundation for early drug discovery. Past dierctor of Institute of Forensic Sciences of Santiago de  Compostela (1995-2015).

AC has published 12 books and over 800 papers in SCI journals, including papers in Nature, Nature Genetics and Science.

 Board member and external adviser of different national and international institutions, foundations and societies on Forensic Science (IALM, MAFS), Medical Genetics, Pharmacogenomics and Cancer. Past president of the ISFG. President of the IALM.

Editor of FSI: Genetics, and member of the editorial board of a number of the international and national journals on genetics, cancer and forensic science. Member of regulatory bodies (Pharmacogenomics WG at the EMA, UK Forensic Regulator DNA, National Commission for forensic use of DNA, Spain). President or member of the board of non-profit foundations (Kaertor, Innopharma, INGADA, among others).

Prizes and distinctions: Jaime I Award, Adelaide Medal, Galien Medal, National Award on Genetics, Medal Castelao, Medal of Galicia, Medal to the Police merit, Galician Prize of Research, Fernandez Latorre Award, Prismas Award and various prizes from foundations and scientific societies. Doctor Honoris Causa for several universities in Europe and the Americas.

Panellist - Dr Noora Al Snan

Panellist - Dr Noora Al Snan

Head of DNA Department, General Directorate of Criminal Investigation & Forensic Science, Ministry of Interior Bahrain

Dr Noora joined the Ministry of Interior (MOI), Bahrain (2008) as an enthusiastic DNA analyst in General Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science, FSL and is currently assigned as the Head of Biology & DNA Forensic Lab.

In 2017, Dr Noora completed a PhD degree in Molecular Medicine in Genetic Ancestry studies using forensic applications at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) with the cooperation of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences (Riyadh, KSA). In 2012, Dr Noora received an MSc degree in medical biotechnology specializing in genetic engineering for recombinant proteins from Arabian Gulf University (Bahrain). She has completed a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and biochemistry studies from Kuwait University (Kuwait).

Dr Noora has analyzed and solved many challenging cases mainly related to terrorism, robbery and murder and is currently assisting in the validation and R&D team.

Dr Noora has attended many conferences and workshops as a speaker and delegated from MOI.Along with her team, has achieved many outstanding results as they have obtained the 5th position worldwide for the Gordon Thomas Honeywell DNA Hit of the Year that was held in HIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria (2017).

Also, her team has set innovative protocols regarding recovery of DNA from RDX-C4 evidence, Forensic DNA intelligence, fast and effective DNA extraction from teeth, bones and maggots.

Her main interests are investing in human resources, continuous education, and R&D.

Panellist - Dr Lejla Skenderagic

Panellist - Dr Lejla Skenderagic

Forensic Specialist, Coordinator of the Forensic Genetic Centre, ICRC

Lejla Smajlovic Skenderagic is the Coordinator of the Forensic Genetic Centre at the International Committee of the Red Cross based in Tbilisi, Georgia. She has more than 18 years of work experience in the field of forensic genetics including analysis and interpretation of tens of thousands low-copy DNA STR profiles in missing persons and disaster victim identification cases. Being a Genetic Analysis Unit manager in high throughput DNA laboratory for many years, Lejla is well experienced in degraded, low copy number DNA profile interpretation, DNA laboratory organization, staff training and coaching, development of procedures and ISO/IEC 17025 quality assurance.  Prior to joining ICRC, Lejla worked for 16 years in the DNA laboratories Division at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Dr Lejla holds a PhD in Biological Sciences (Genetics), and as an Assistant Professor at International Burch University in Sarajevo, she has been teaching several undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Her main research areas cover STRs, mtDNA and population genetics.


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