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Beyond Time’s Veil: Illuminating Forensics with Multi-Omics PMI Estimation

Noemi Procopio, Senior Researcher in Forensic Taphonomy at the School of Natural Sciences of the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK and Principal Investigator of the "ForensOMICS" Team of the School of Law and Policing of the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK., will hold a seminar at CEINGE entitled "Beyond Time's Veil: Illuminating Forensics with Multi-Omics PMI Estimation" (start at 12.00). Dr. Procopio will lead the audience in exploring the newest frontiers of forensic investigations in the technological and scientific field.

She graduated in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Turin, she obtained a PhD in Forensic Proteomics at the University of Manchester, interested in Proteomic Taphonomy in the study of the process of cadaveric decay for forensic and archaeological applications. She has won several awards including the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, receiving funding of £1,161,000, for a project based on the interdisciplinary implementation of omics sciences to in vivo and post-mortem aging investigations for forensic applications. The aim of his project is to investigate how biomolecules, particularly proteins, metabolites and DNA, can survive and decay after death, in order to identify new biomarkers in human bones that can reveal information on chronological age and post-mortem interval (PMI).

Dr. Procopio is a member of the most important scientific societies in the forensic field such as the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS), the European Academy of Forensic Science, the International Society for Forensic Genetics, the Society for American Archeology and the Academy Italian in Forensic Sciences. She is a peer-reviewer for many international journals and research councils both in the UK and abroad and is a member of the editorial board of Springer Nature.

Host researcher: Nadia Tinto

What talking about

Determining the accurate post-mortem interval (PMI) is a critical aspect of forensic investigations, playing a pivotal role in reconstructing the circumstances surrounding a forensic casework. Traditional PMI estimation methods, based on morphological changes associated with supravital reactions and decomposition stages, have inherent limitations, particularly for extended PMIs or cases involving partial or skeletonized remains. In response, this research presents an innovative and comprehensive approach that combines multiple omics technologies, including proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics, and microbiome analyses in an approach that we define “Forens-OMICS”, to enhance the precision of PMI estimation in forensics.

The integration of multi-omics data provides a holistic view of the post-mortem changes at the molecular level, enabling the identification of time-sensitive biomarkers associated with different stages of decomposition. Our study showcases how protein abundance and modifications patterns, metabolic signatures, lipid profiles, and microbiome dynamics undergo characteristic shifts over time, which can be correlated with PMI in a time-dependent manner.

Using advanced mass spectrometry techniques and high-throughput sequencing technologies, we demonstrate the successful extraction and analysis of various molecular components from forensic samples, such as bone, soft tissues, and bodily fluids. By employing machine learning algorithms and statistical models, we establish robust and reliable predictive models for PMI estimation, capable of accommodating inter-individual variations and environmental factors.

This work highlights the potential of multi-omics integration as a powerful tool in forensic science, opening new avenues for improving accuracy in PMI determination and contributing to the resolution of complex and challenging cases. Ultimately, our findings pave the way for more informed and evidence-based decisions, facilitating justice for the victims and their families while advancing the frontiers of forensic investigation.


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Passcode: 368434
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