Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - November 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • November 4 lecture - Professor Daniele Podini - Familial DNA Searching in Criminal Investigations
  • December 9 lecture - Andrew Torrez - Skepticism and the Law
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals

NCAS Public Lecture Series

Familial DNA Searching:
An Investigative Tool that Increases Public Safety?
Or an Illegitimate Practice of Genetic Surveillance?

Daniele Podini, PhD

Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences
The George Washington University

Saturday, November 4, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
Argosy University
1550 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 712
Arlington, VA [map] [directions]
(Near Rosslyn Metro stop)
Enter parking garage from N Pierce Street.
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members
Please arrive before 1:30 so we can provide passage through the building access control system.

Conventional forensic DNA analysis is an effective approach for human individual identification as long as the profile of the perpetrator is already available to the investigators, but fails if not. In such “suspect-less” cases familial DNA searching can be used as a tool to identify potential suspects. In familial DNA searching, a profile from the crime scene, likely belonging to the perpetrator, is searched against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Partial hits are used by investigators to focus on close family members of the persons whose DNA profile is in CODIS. Familial DNA searching has been one of the most controversial aspects of DNA technology. It has been used in California and other states but was forbidden in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Dr. Podini will be presenting two conflicting perspectives: is familial searching a tool that can be used to generate investigative leads and that can result in identifying the culprit or is it a practice with profound racial justice implications, that effectively puts under genetic surveillance innocent families and primarily certain minorities?

Daniele Podini is Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology in the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University. He previously served as the Assistant Chief of the Biology Section of the Scientific Department of the Carabinieri - Italian military Armed Force. Later he created and directed the Forensic Section of Genoma, a private molecular biology laboratory in Rome. He consulted with laboratories in Italy, Turkey, Albania, Tunisia, and Algeria to aid in the establishment of Molecular Genetic Sections, and the development of specific forensic capabilities. The research conducted in his lab ranges from developing assays to infer biogeographic ancestry and physical traits, to working on high throughput detection of sperm cells from sexual assault evidence, and from obtaining DNA from fired cartridge cases to developing methods to enhance DNA mixture deconvolution with the most recent DNA sequencing technology available.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.


December NCAS Lecture
Our speaker will be attorney Andrew Torrez, who will present "Skepticism and the Law."  Saturday, December 9 at 1:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
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AmazonSmile's disbursements to NCAS in the first and second quarter of 2017 totaled $28.76, meaning that over $5700 of purchases were designated in support of NCAS.  (As an example of how NCAS can put that money to good use, it's more than enough to cover an hour of a Montgomery County lecture room rental.)

Thanks again to our members who have chosen to support NCAS!

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