Since its inception in the 1980’s, forensic DNA profiling has become a revolutionary tool in criminal investigation, identification of human remains and resolution of relationship disputes. When sufficient high quality DNA can be recovered from a specimen of interest, routine semi-automated laboratory processing can be employed effectively. In many forensic investigations, however, the biological material recovered may not be of sufficient quantity or quality for routine DNA profiling, or may constitute a mixture of several sources which result in complex profiles whose interpretation relies on statistical inference rather than empirical determination. Furthermore, routine forensic DNA profiling does not reveal the source tissue e.g. blood, saliva, semen, etc… of a biological stain. This may be critical to an investigation in which a DNA profile may be incriminating or exculpatory depending on its source.
This project aims to experimentally evaluate current methods for processing of difficult forensic samples, i.e. low-template and degraded DNA samples, with a view to developing novel methodologies to aid the resolution of complex mixtures and identify the source of human DNA recovered from crime scene samples. All aspects of sample processing, from crime scene detection to sample recovery and laboratory processing will be considered, with a view to maximising the quality of information generated from difficult forensic samples. The project is based on the supervisor’s research track record in low-template DNA analysis and localisation of trace forensic DNA evidence. It aims to combine single cell, RNA and DNA analysis in order to experimentally develop methods that can separate the various components of mixed body fluids, by using a variety of microscopic and molecular approaches. Specialist facilities for low-template DNA purification and forensic genotyping are available.
The project will be supervised by members of Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science, a unique interdisciplinary centre addressing issues in basic and applied science, law, policy and ethics in forensic science and medicine.
Enquiries regarding this studentship should be made to Dr Eleanor Graham; Tel. +44 191 243 7651; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree (in a relevant subject) from a British higher education institution, or equivalent. Students who are not UK/EU residents are eligible to apply, provided they hold the relevant academic qualifications, together with an IELTS score of at least 6.5.
You should apply using the University’s Research Application Form, available via the link on this page. Applications should be submitted to:
Assistant Research Administrator
School of Life Sciences
Northumberland Building Room 119
tel: +44 (0)191 243 7770
The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (figure for 2012/13 is 13,590 pa) and home fees.
Graham, E.A.M, Rutty, G.N. (2008) Investigation into “normal” background DNA on adult necks: implications for DNA profiling of manual strangulation victims. J. Forensic Sci. 53: 1074-1082.
Maguire S, Ellaway B, Bowyer VL, Graham EAM, Rutty GN. (2008) Retrieval of DNA from the faces of children aged 0–5 years: A technical note. Journal of Forensic Nursing 4(1): 40-44.
Graham EAM, Bowyer VL, Martin VJ, Rutty GN (2007) Investigation into the usefulness of DNA profiling earprints. Science and Justice 47: 155-159.