Alec Jeffreys Forensic Genomics Unit
Recent developments in DNA sequencing technologies have revolutionised biology and medicine, and are now doing the same for forensic science. Massively parallel sequencing (MPS; also known as next-generation sequencing - NGS) allows much more information to be extracted from trace and damaged DNA samples, and will facilitate at-scene DNA analysis. The aim of the Alec Jeffreys Forensic Genomics Unit (based in the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology) is to be a UK centre for excellence in developing and applying MPS approaches to forensically relevant problems, including human individual identification, human population structure analysis and databasing, analysis of challenging trace materials, and animal species and individual identification.
We also have expertise in conventional capillary-electrophoresis-based short-tandem repeat (STR) typing, producing data for databases for the UK, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, and contributing to the UK Forensic Science Regulator’s 2021 Guidelines on Y-STRs. Our work underpins impact case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in both 2014 and 2021, and we have provided specialist casework for the East Midlands Special Operations Unit and Hampshire Police, among others.
We are honoured that Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, who pioneered the entire field of forensic genetics back in the 1980s, has allowed us to associate his name with our unit.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Professor Mark Jobling, Co-Director, Professor of Genetics
- Dr Jon Wetton, Co-Director
- Dr Celia May, Department of Genetics & Genome Biology: Lecturer in Genetics
- Ms Rita Neumann, Research Assistant
- Ms Jordan Beasley, BBSRC iCASE PhD student, partnered with Verogen
- Mr Orie Shaw, BBSRC iCASE PhD student, partnered with Oxford Nanopore Technologies
- Ms Margherita Colucci, BBSRC iCASE PhD student, partnered with DNA WorldWide
- Mr Ettore Fedele, NERC-CENTA PhD student
- Ms Emily Patterson, BBSRC iCASE PhD student, partnered with Twycross Zoo and The Zoological Society of London
Equipment and infrastructure
Our facilities include equipment for massively parallel sequencing and DNA fragment analysis:
- Verogen MiSeq FGx Forensic Genomics system
- IonTorrent PGM system
- ONT MinION devices
- ABI 3500xL 24-capillary electrophoresis platform for DNA fragment analysis
- ABI Veriti, G-Storm and MJR-Tetrad PCR machines
- Self-examination approaches to collecting DNA evidence after sexual assault
- Next-generation kinship, ancestry and phenotypic deduction for forensic and genealogical analysis
- Genomic in-field approaches to great ape species- and individual identification
- Universal species identification in the field by rapid and affordable nanopore DNA sequencing
- Next-generation sequencing multiplexes for birds of prey: A pilot study for non-human forensics
- Combatting the illegal trade in European eels via in-field DNA sequencing approaches
- Developing and applying mitochondrial DNA databases for domestic cats and dogs via nanopore sequencing
- Characterising human Y-chromosomal deletions and duplications in the 300,000 samples of the Y Haplotype Reference Database (YHRD)
- Professor Lisa Smith, Department of Criminology: Empowering victims of sexual violence using novel DNA collection and examination kits
- Professor Nuala Sheehan, Department of Health Sciences: human kinship estimation from genomic data
- Dr Richard Oduor, Kenyatta University, Nairobi: Genetic diversity in Kenya; establishing forensic reference databases for Kenyan populations
Selected recent publications
- Ottolini B, Lall GM, Sacchini F, Jobling MA, Wetton JH (2017) Application of a mitochondrial DNA control region frequency database for UK domestic cats. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet., 27:149-155.
- Smith LL, Wetton JH, Lall GKM, Flowe HD, Jobling MA (2017) Forensic science and the right to access to justice: Testing the efficacy of self-examination intimate DNA swabs to enhance victim-centred responses to sexual violence in low-resource environments. Sci. Justice., 57:331-335.
- Huszar TI, Jobling MA, Wetton JH (2018) A phylogenetic framework facilitates Y-STR variant discovery and classification via massively parallel sequencing. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet., 35:97-106.
- Khubrani Y, Hallast P, Jobling MA, Wetton JH (2019) Massively parallel sequencing of autosomal STRs and identity-informative SNPs highlights consanguinity in Saudi Arabia. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet., 43:102164.
- Masters A, Ogden R, Wetton JH, Dawnay N (2019) Defining end user requirements for a field-based molecular detection system for wildlife forensic investigations. Forensic Sci. Int., 301:231-239.
- Jobling MA, Syndercombe Court D (2020) Should we be making use of genetic genealogy to assist in solving crime? A report on the feasibility of such methods in the UK. On behalf of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group of the Home Office.
- Esmail N, Wintle BC, t Sas-Rolfes M, 18 others, Wetton JH, Workman C, Wright J, Milner-Gulland EJ (2020) Emerging illegal wildlife trade issues: A global horizon scan. Conserv. Lett. 13:e12715.
- Muinde JM, Chandra Bhanu DR, Neumann R, Oduor RO, Kanja W, Kimani JK, Mutugi MW, Smith L, Jobling MA, Wetton JH (2021) Geographical and linguistic structure in the people of Kenya demonstrated using 21 autosomal STRs. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet., 102535.
- Beasley J, Shorrock G, Neumann R, May CA, Wetton JH (2021) Massively parallel sequencing and capillary electrophoresis of a novel panel of falcon STRs: Concordance with minisatellite DNA profiles from historical wildlife crime. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet., 54:102550.
- Brustad HK, Colucci M, Jobling MA, Sheehan NA, Egeland T (2021) Strategies for pairwise searches in forensic kinship analysis. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet., 102562.