Friday, April 26, 2013

The double helix in court: DNA as catalyst for change

Written by Ma. Corazon de Ungria, PhD
STAR SCIENCE, Philippine Star

The basic DNA properties of inheritability, chemical stability, identity of biological samples originating from one person and the uniqueness of the totality of an individual’s DNA profile make this chemical the most effective tool for human identification. In the Philippines where testimonies comprise the most common and at times, the only evidence presented in court, the development of forensic DNA testing to assist in criminal investigations and resolve civil disputes provides a novel tool to a justice system that at times has been seen as slow, biased and inefficient. With the mandate to pioneer the development of forensic DNA technology in the Philippines, the DNA Analysis Laboratory of the Natural Sciences Research Institute (UP-NSRI DAL) was established in May 1996. The contribution of rigorous academic research, committed forensic scientists and supportive partners/collaborators in laying the foundation for the technology in the country is evident in the past 18 years of the laboratory’s existence (