Visiting Scientists

Marwan El Khoury

The University of Leicester in the United Kingdom has a rich history of developing techniques that have supported the field of forensic molecular biology.  Alec Jeffreys, the father of forensic DNA fingerprinting, developed and applied the first forensic DNA test back in the mid-1980’s (Jeffreys et al., Hypervariable “minisatallite” regions in human DNA and Individual-specific “fingerprints” of human DNA, both in Nature in 1985).  Since then forensic DNA analysis has become a staple in crime laboratories around the world, including more than 500 laboratories in the United States alone.

During April-June of 2017, we were fortunate to have a visiting scientist in our laboratory from Leicester, Marwan El Khoury, as part of the INTREPID Forensics program (newsletter attached below).  Marwan is studying for his Ph.D. with an interest in how extreme heat impacts DNA recovery and analysis when considering a massively parallel approach to DNA sequencing (MPS), and when performing STR and SNP analysis (whether conventional analysis or MPS).  His research mentors at Leicester are Mark Jobling and Jon Wetton, highly accomplished molecular biologists who have made significant contributions to our field; Professor Jobling has studied population dynamics of the Y chromosome for decades, and is a co-author of the textbook, Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origin, Peoples & Disease, while Dr. Wetton has been involved in the development of genetic profiling tools for >30 years, including the first published application of DNA fingerprinting to wild animals, and while a senior researcher at the Forensic Science Service (FSS) he developed and assessed methods for mtDNA sequence analysis and Y-SNP/Y-STR tests for human casework.  The preparation that Marwan received at Leicester was a major contributing factor to his success while here at Penn State.

We loved having Marwan with us in our laboratory, and look forward to continuing our collaborations together.  The friendship we developed with Marwan and his wife Olivia will last for many years to come. 🙂

Marwan and Dr. Holland at the Memorial Day parade in Boalsburg, PA, the birthplace of Memorial Day.

INTREPID Newsletter, July 2017: