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Mar 27 2023
Meet ISHI Exhibitors: Parabon NanoLabs
Travis chats with Ellen Greytak, the director of Bioinformatics, of Parabon NanonLabs who describes the identification of “JB55” who had died in the 1800’s. Unlike other burials of that time in the area, his skull and femurs were neatly arranged in the shape of a skull and crossbones, leading archaeologists to conclude that the man had been a suspected “vampire” by his community.
In reality, JB was John Barber, who suffered from a chronic lung infection that was most likely tuberculosis, known at the time as consumption. During that time period, the disease was frequently lethal and symptoms included a bloody cough, jaundice (pale, yellowed skin), red and swollen eyes, and a general appearance of “wasting away.”
Using various DNA testing techniques and genetic genealogy work, scientists at AFDIL (Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory) were able to get a usable profile leading to identification and determine that this protocol could be used within forensic laboratories.
For more on the identification of John Barber, including a model of what he likely looked like based on DNA phenotpying, check out this article in Newsweek.
Around the 7:30 mark, Ellen discusses DNA phenotyping, which uses DNA to predict a suspect’s appearance and how this could be used in forensic casework.
Later, around 10:00, Ellen and Travis discuss using SNPs to deconvolute mixture samples and the challenges that come with this.
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