Forensic Genetics Unit

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Courses offered by the UGF :

Our unit teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and also provides continuing education courses. Teaching is intended mainly for students of medicine, law and forensic science, as well as for magistrates, police officers and biomedical analysis technicians. The following modules are given in this context.

  • "Use of DNA profiles in a medico-legal context" which seeks to illustrate the use of DNA profiles in a forensic context.
  • "Practical courses in forensic genetics" which seeks to provide basic knowledge concerning the interpretation of DNA profiles in a forensic context.
  • "Analyses of autosomal nuclear DNA" which presents the main factors influencing the establishment of nuclear DNA profiles and governing their interpretation.
  • "Analysis of haploid DNA markers" which presents the main factors influencing the establishment of Y-STR and mitochondrial DNA profiles and governing their interpretation.

Main areas of research at the UGF :

The UGF develops and collaborates in many multidisciplinary research projects in different fields of forensic genetics, biology and medicine. Among these projects, several areas of research are developed :

  • Diana Hall, PhD Responsible of Research
    Diana Hall received her Ph.D. in Forensic Genetics from the Catholic University of Rome for her research on background Linkage Disequilibrium across human populations, carried out at the Department of Human Genetics of the University of Chicago. She continued her postdoctoral studies on disease mapping of complex traits at the Rockefeller University of New York. Since 2010, she is Responsible of Research at the UGF. Her latest interests are novel methodological approaches for DNA mixture resolutions, prenatal paternity testing, solid organ transplant monitoring and population genetics. 
  • Vincent Castella, Dr ès Sc., privat-docent, MER-1, Responsable UGF
    Vincent Castella has studied biology with a focus on population genetics. After completing his PhD at the University of Lausanne, he was hired in 2001 for supervising, then directing the forensic genetics laboratory of Lausanne. In 2004, he obtained the forensic geneticist title of the SSLM. Since 2008, Vincent Castella is in charge of the forensic genetics unit at the CURML. His focus is the setting of new molecular tools of forensic interest. Vincent Castella gives also forensic genetics lessons at the University of Lausanne.
  • Christian Gehrig, MSc
    After obtaining a degree in biology from the University of Geneva, followed by a post-graduate diploma in chemical forensics at the Institute of Forensic Science and Criminology of the University of Lausanne, Christian Gehrig was hired in 2000 to take care of the forensic genetics analyses for the French speaking part of Switzerland. Christian Gehrig, a forensic geneticist of the SSML and a technical expert of the SAS, is in charge of the operational part of the laboratory. He is particularly interested in the biostatistical aspects of DNA interpretation, the development of analyses related to genetic markers on the Y chromosome, as well as the automation of DNA analysis procedures.
  • Patrick Basset, PhD
    After some studies in Biology and a PhD from the Lausanne University with a specialization in population genetics, Patrick Basset did a one year postdoc at the University of Arizona (Tucson, USA) (speciation genetics). Then, he worked for 5 years in the service of hospital preventive medicine at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) to study the epidemiology and evolution of several bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Since 2013, Patrick Basset takes care of certifying activities of the UGF as well as research projects. In such a context, he is particularly interested in the parameters associated with the contamination of DNA stains. 
  •  Poster ISFG 2022

  • Frédéric Grosjean, PhD
    Holder of a PhD in Sciences from the EPFL since 2003, Frédéric Grosjean worked for two years as responsible for the flow cytometry facility within the Ludwig Insitute for Cancer Research. He then joined the biochemistry department of the University of Lausanne to perform postdoctoral studies in immunology, working on a murine model of cancer and its characterization using DNA array and flow cytometry. Frédéric Grosjean is a flow cytometry specialist; he is interested in its applications within the field of forensic sciences, focusing on separation of different cell types for genetic analyses.
  • Lydie Samie-Foucart, PhD
    Lydie Samie is a forensic scientist, with a specialization in the interpretation of DNA results. She obtained her master's degree in forensic science at the School of Criminal Sciences (Lausanne, Switzerland) and -in 2019- her PhD on the evaluation of DNA results considering activity-level propositions. She is proficient in the use of Bayesian networks, both for research and casework purposes. Since 2018, she works as a DNA expert at Forensic Genetic Unit of the University Center of Legal Medicine, Lausanne – Geneva. In the context of research projects and casework purposes, she is particularly interested in the phenomena of DNA transfer and persistence as well as the nature of the trace.
  • Tacha Hicks PhD
    Tacha Hicks received her MSc and Ph.D. both in Forensic Science, from the School of Criminal Justice of the University of Lausanne. Early in her career, notably through her doctoral thesis, she specialized in the probabilistic evaluation of forensic results, in particular when considering activity level propositions. After working for three years at the Forensic Science Service in the Research and Development department, she joined the School of Criminal Justice for her post-doctoral research in the field of DNA in collaboration with the Forensic Genetics Unit (FGU). In 2017, she implemented probabilistic genotyping for DNA mixtures within the FGU, and, in 2019, was appointed interpretation leader for FGU. She has co-written monographs in the field of DNA interpretation, co-directed master's work and published numerous articles on this topic. She participates in university teaching by giving courses on interpretation of DNA results.

Thesis in progress :

  • Géraldine Damour (2020 - ) "New DNA markers for the analysis of challenging DNA mixtures and for individual ancestry inference in forensic investigations"
  • Séverine Nozownik (2022 - ) " Improving the use of touch DNA traces recovered at crime scenes "

Some recent UGF publications :