This Week in Forensic Science

No one has hours to scour the papers to keep up with the latest news, so we’ve curated the top news stories in the field of Forensic Science for this week. Here’s what you need to know to get out the door!




Experts Claim the Only Way to Improve Privacy Rights Over our DNA is for Us ALL to Share Our Genes in a Huge Database (Daily Mail – 11/23/2018)

  • A group of medical researchers has proposed that the best way to protect genetic information is for people to deposit their DNA into a huge database.

    The team says that creating a giant database would enhance people’s protection by making the system more regulated.


DNA Data from Africans Reveals Sequences That We’d Missed (Ars Technica – 11/24/2018)

  • The human genome sequence, first published in 2001, has some important information missing. The latest version of it, called GRCh38, has a monstrous 3.1 gigabases of information—but that’s still not enough. A letter published in Nature Genetics this week finds that the reference genome is missing a colossal 10 percent of the genetic information found in the genomes of hundreds of people with African ancestry—information that also appears in other human populations.


Blood and Truth: The Lingering Case of Tommy Zeigler and How Florida Fights DNA Testing (Tampa Bay Times – 11/25/2018)


Chinese Researcher Claims to Have Altered Babies’ DNA (Fox News – 11/26/2018)

  • A Chinese researcher claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life.

    If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics.



For Nearly 50 Years, Harvard was Haunted by an Unsolved Murder. DNA Now Points to a Serial Rapist. (The Washington Post – 11/26/2018)

  • The brutal murder of a talented, young Harvard student quickly jumped into the national news, where the cloud cover of speculation and rumor made it difficult to see fact from fiction. The Harvard Square counterculture scene, the infamous Boston Strangler case, a bizarre death rite tied to Britton’s anthropological work — all were floated as possible explanations.

    But with little hard evidence, the investigation foundered — until nearly 50 years later.


DNA of the Mysterious ‘Siberian Unicorn’ has Been Analysed for the First Time (Science Alert – 11/26/2018)

  • It didn’t look much like the dainty unicorns of myth and legend, but the extinct unicorn of Siberia is even more entrancing for palaeontologists.

    Now, for the first time, scientists have analysed its DNA – and realised everyone had been wrong about the mysterious beast.


Opinion: Forensic Science Commission Can Protect Public Safety (The Detroit News – 11/26/2018)

  • To sharpen criminal investigative tools that can identify the guilty and protect the innocent, the National Institute of Justice promotes state-based forensic science commissions (FSCs) to oversee crime-fighting techniques. The commissions are to include expert scientists and stakeholders in the justice system such as prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys.


Forensic Volatile Analysis Estimates Age of Bodily Fluids (Chemistry World – 11/26/2018)


‘Junk DNA’ May Be Responsible for Certain Diseases, Scientists Say (Arizona Public Media – 11/26/2018)


Boston-Area Scientists Criticize Chinese Researcher who Changed Embryonic DNA (Boston Globe – 11/27/2018)


Dads (Not Just Moms) Can Pass on Mitochondrial DNA, According to Provocative New Study (Live Science – 11/27/2018)