Location: Bar Blink, Wijnhaven 59

Date: Monday, 26th of June

Time: Doors open at 19:30, event starts at 20:00

Cost: Free

Biological evidence is by far the most powerful in court, solving criminal cases by linking individuals to victims and crime scenes. However, unraveling unique DNA ‘fingerprints’ depends on having known suspects or ‘hits’ on national forensic DNA databases. So, when these are not available, the police often asks where a person comes from and how they look like. Current forensic DNA profiling helps us predict continental ancestry and some appearance traits, but research is ongoing.

What other personal traits can we predict from DNA? This lecture is about research on an additional ‘hidden’ layer of our DNA: its chemical profile, or in other words what we call epigenetics that involves how genes turn ‘on’ and ‘off’. Imagine DNA as a unique ‘fingerprint’ that not only reveals one’s identity, but also a trail of information about its genes’ activity, that can reveal crucial insights into an individual’s past exposures, lifestyle habits, and even their age.

During her talk, Dr Vidaki will explore the basics of forensic DNA profiling, and embark on a captivating case study where epigenetic ‘fingerprints’ act as silent witnesses to unravel a mysterious crime. The immense potential and various ethical or privacy issues of epigenetics will be discussed, that together could potentially rewrite the future of forensic investigations.

Dr Vidaki received her PhD from King’s College London, United Kingdom, with her thesis on ‘Novel uses of epigenetics in forensic science’. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Individualized Epigenomics at the Department of Genetic Identification of Erasmus MC. Her research focuses on discovering novel epigenomic variation of both forensic and medical relevance – for example, associated to ageing and lifestyle – and on developing new computational and experimental techniques to be able to read DNA better.