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Armenia Hosts Regional Symposium on Forensic DNA in CIS/Europe

On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, the National Bureau of Expertises (NBE) of Armenia and EuraDNA jointly hosted a gathering of minds at a Regional Forensic DNA Database Policy Symposium. The agenda was packed with informative sessions and distinguished speakers.


The symposium kicked off with opening remarks from prominent figures such as Argam Hovsepyan, Director of the National Bureau of Expertises (NBE) in Armenia, and Tim Schellberg, President of GTH DNA, alongside representatives from Armenian Ministries. These introductory remarks emphasized the importance of national DNA database legislation and programs in the context of criminal investigations.


One of the highlights of the morning session was the diverse perspectives offered by global forensic DNA leaders. Dr. Bruce Budowle, the founder of the United States DNA database program and renowned for his expertise in DNA science, provided remarks about the importance of DNA databases and how the U.S. program was established. Representatives from the Investigative Committee of Armenia and the National Forensic Bureau of Georgia provided valuable insights into the practical application of forensic DNA in criminal investigations.


Participants also saw virtual presentations from presenters from INTERPOL and Spain's National Police about their DNA database programs, gaining insights into Spain’s DNA databasing program, Prüm sharing, and INTERPOL's global DNA programs. Anahit Mamikonyan, Head of the Forensic Genetics Expertise Unit at NBE Armenia, shared her organization’s experiences, offering a glimpse into the development of forensic DNA analysis in Armenia. The symposium also provided a platform for other CIS countries and partners, with representatives from Kazakhstan, Georgia, and the International Committee of the Red Cross sharing their perspectives on humanitarian forensic action and the use of DNA in such contexts. Participants from Ukraine and Uzbekistan attended virtually.


The symposium extended into the afternoon with technical training sessions led by the attending keynote experts. Dr. Bruce Budowle delved into the value of direct and indirect searching of DNA databases, offering practical insights into maximizing the utility of forensic DNA analysis. Nino Kochiashvili, the DNA laboratory director at the Georgian National Forensic Bureau, shared case experiences and lessons learned from Georgia’s DNA database program, while representatives from INTERPOL provided a virtual overview of the organization’s DNA database unit, emphasizing its role in missing persons investigations and international sharing.


As the Regional Forensic DNA Database Policy Symposium came to an end, participants departed with a wealth of knowledge, inspired to leverage their newfound insights in advancing forensic DNA initiatives in Armenia and beyond. The symposium served as a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of forensic DNA database legislation. It also underscored Armenia’s commitment to excellence in forensic science and criminal justice.



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