Expert bats for DNA human profiling Bill

It took all of 40 minutes for geneticist-scientist Ranajit Chakraborty, Director of Centre for Computational Genomics, Institute of Applied Genetics & professor, department of molecular and medical genetics, University of North Texas Health Science Centre, U.S., to deduce the “missing person of a clan of 27 member family”.

“It was only days later I realised that the missing family person I had identified through my computational statistical software was Osama Bin Laden!”, guffaws Dr. Chakraborty. Years before the intelligence agencies of the United States have been sending samples of hypothetical families without mentioning where they were from.

The scientist, with over 560 research papers and five patents to his credit, recalls that three sleuths were assigned to him during the period and “I only knew their first names”.

The U.S. special forces who killed Bill Laden had tested the DNA samples in a mobile lab somewhere in north Pakistan and then sought his help to identify the missing family member having sent details of rest of the family years before, he explained.

Dr. Chakraborty had earlier in his lecture – ‘DNA databases and human identification’ had emphasised the importance of having a DNA database of offenders as has been done in 58 countries across the world including U.S, U.K., China and others on Monday. India is among the 33 countries working on such a database.

The talk was held as part of the 30{+t}{+h}anniversary celebrations of the Department of Biotechnology in association with Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) and National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB).

Indian Bill

Noting that the DNA Human Profiling Bill has been pending in the Indian Parliament for the past eight years, he said “being an Indian”, he could understand the fears about “privacy” and “public safety” with regard to having a DNA database but if enough “safeguards” could be instilled, these could be overcome. For instance, there were three different agencies handling the database including a third party in U.S for personal identification, database and sample control.

“I was told 13 labs under the Centre for Forensic Science have been working on this here, therefore infrastructure is there and with proper handling we can have a database sooner as there is so much utility in tackling child trafficking, crime scenes and unidentified dead bodies,” said the doctorate in biostatistics from the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

Director-in- charge NIAB J. Gowrishankar explained about the activities of CDFD and NIAB.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 2:52:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/expert-bats-for-dna-human-profiling-bill/article7863627.ece

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