QIAGEN announces winners of 2019 Young Investigator Award competition
Three young forensic scientists recognized for work in human identification and genetics
Germantown, Maryland, and Hilden, Germany, September 16, 2019 – QIAGEN today announced the winners of its first Young Investigator Award competition for outstanding researchers in forensic science. The 2019 award winner and two runners-up were recognized during the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) Congress in Prague.
The 2019 Young Investigator Award was awarded to Dr. Margreet van den Berge of the Netherlands Forensic Institute, The Hague. The 2019 Young Investigator Award winner will be the recipient of substantial research support from QIAGEN. Runners-up were the Ph.D. candidates Zachary Goecker, of the University of California–Davis Environmental Toxicology Department, and Sofia Antão Sousa, of the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology, University of Porto, Portugal. All three finalists received all-inclusive invitations to the ISFG Congress.
“Innovation in forensic science enables faster, more accurate identification of molecular patterns, which serves the cause of justice and improves public safety. Each of these three extraordinary young scientists has made significant contributions to the advancement of forensic knowledge,” said Dr. Thomas Schweins, Senior Vice President, Life Science Business Area, for QIAGEN. “As the global leader in Sample to Insight solutions for human identity testing, QIAGEN is proud to sponsor the Young Investigator Award program to honor and encourage the young researchers to further advance the field of molecular forensic sciences to contribute to solving, reducing and preventing crimes.”
A distinguished panel of independent judges selected the three finalists from more than 80 applications from all over the world. The panel included QIAGEN’s Young Investigator Ambassador, Dr. Sheree Hughes; ISFG President, Prof. Dr. Walther Parson; Emerging Technologies Ambassador, Prof. Dr. Bruce R. McCord; Missing Persons Ambassador, Dr. Thomas J. Parsons; and China Forensic Ambassadors, Dr. Yingnan Bian and Dr. Jiangwei Yan.
Dr. van den Berge’s ongoing postdoctoral research at the NFI aims to build upon her Ph.D. work, which applied mRNA profiling for forensic identification of body fluids and organ types and demonstrated the value of mRNA profiling with aged and degraded specimens. Currently, she is expanding the functionalities of the RNA assays by developing a probabilistic interpretation model and establishing an association of donor and cell type by SNPs in the RNA amplicons, among other applications.
“To have my research recognized on this scale is extremely validating, and I am both proud and humbled to be recognized as QIAGEN’s Young Investigator Award winner,” said Dr. van den Berge.
Mr. Goecker’s Ph.D. project involves the role of genetic variation in human hair shaft protein as a forensic tool and optimizing the chemical processing of hair for proteomic analysis. He is also exploring ancestral classification and targeted proteomic methods, and the analysis of single amino-acid polymorphisms.
Ms. Antão Sousa’s Ph.D. project is in forensic genetics. She has worked on estimating Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-STR) mutation rates and elucidating mutational mechanisms. She is also involved in other projects, involving the use of massively parallel sequencing and the estimation of wound age.
QIAGEN’s Leadership in Human ID & Forensics
QIAGEN is at the forefront of human identity and forensic testing worldwide, with a product portfolio offering a full range of forensic DNA grade chemistries combined with high-quality instruments that address the diverse needs and challenges of crime scene investigation and human identification, covering every step in the workflow, from sample to result. QIAGEN has actively supported the development of global forensic standards to improve accuracy and support criminal justice and missing persons identification. QIAGEN’s top-quality, efficient solutions, innovative bioinformatics tools, and comprehensive validation services help customers unlock valuable molecular insights to make improvements in life possible.
QIAGEN has granted awards to young scientists annually for several years, encouraging advances in molecular science. Among other recognitions, the Young Investigator Award includes research support such as a package of instruments and reagents from QIAGEN worth up to $40,000. Results and additional information can be found here https://investigatorforum.qiagen.com/young-investigator-awards/winners
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands-based holding company, is the leading global provider of Sample to Insight solutions that enable customers to gain valuable molecular insights from samples containing the building blocks of life. Our sample technologies isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from blood, tissue and other materials. Assay technologies make these biomolecules visible and ready for analysis. Bioinformatics software and knowledge bases interpret data to report relevant, actionable insights. Automation solutions tie these together in seamless and cost-effective workflows. QIAGEN provides solutions to more than 500,000 customers around the world in Molecular Diagnostics (human healthcare) and Life Sciences (academia, pharma R&D and industrial applications, primarily forensics). As of June 30, 2019, QIAGEN employed approximately 5,200 people in over 35 locations worldwide. Further information can be found at http://www.qiagen.com.
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