Seminar series on genetics, technology, security and justice at Northumbria University 2015-2017

Dr Matthias Wienroth and Prof Robin Williams, EUROFORGEN Consortium members for WP4 at Northumbria University, have been awarded - together with four social scientists from Newcastle and Durham Universities - a prestigious UK Economic and Social Research Council Research Seminar grant to run a series of six events in 2015-2017 on genetics at the interface of security, justice and health.

The series' focus on forensic genetics contributes to the ESRC's Biosocial strategic priority area and has been described by the Council's review panel as "interesting, innovative and exciting." Each seminar will critically examine aspects of the potential and actual contributions of forensic genetics to the production of security and justice in the UK and other contem­porary European societies. Speakers from the social sciences, forensic genetics, policy, and interest groups will address current aspects and scope future issues. For more infor­mation please visit the website.

Having held two successful interactive and interdisciplinary meetings in December 2015 and March 2016, the seminar series continues with two more events in 2016. Co-convened by EUROFORGEN Network members Matthias Wienroth and Robin Williams, the six-event/two-year series sets out to identify gaps in our knowledge about – and develop ideas for further interdisciplinary social research on – the use of genetics for investigative and related purposes in the UK and beyond. The next two seminars will take place at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Seminar 3, a two-day event on 14 & 15 July 2016, invites participants to discuss and compare the use of forensic genetics technologies in Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), criminal investigations, and immigration purposes. Twelve invited speakers from a broad range of backgrounds, including EUROFORGEN’s scientific coordinator Peter Schneider and advisory board member Ingo Bastisch, will discuss cross-jurisdiction uses of genetic technologies in the European Union and beyond.

Seminar 4 will be held on 23 November 2016. This event will provide a platform to compare forensic and medical domains of genetic technologies. Whilst many criminal jurisdictions currently ban routine exchange of information between ‘criminal’ and ‘medical’ databases, recent technological innovations in DNA profiling blur the line between criminal and medical information. This seminar will discuss differences and similarities in use and governance; professional and public responses to their developments; and current expectations concerning their possible futures.

Both events provide a forum for social and natural scientists, police and commercial forensic service providers and users, civil society organisations, and policy makers to exchange views and inform each other.

For information on these and future events, please see If you would like to attend any of the meetings, please contact the seminar series lead, Matthias Wienroth, at matthias.wienroth(at)