Russian forensic DNA scientists visit ICMP

Article posted on October 19, 2011
In the photo (from left to right): 1) Dr. Tom Parsons, ICMP's Director of Forensic Sciences, 2) Dr. Pavel Ivanov, Deputy Director and Director of Forensic DNA Unit of the Federal Center of Forensic Medical Expertise (FCFME) at the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, 3) M.D. Elena Zemskova, Head of Casework DNA Typing Lab.

In the photo (from left to right): 1) Dr. Tom Parsons, ICMP's Director of Forensic Sciences, 2) Dr. Pavel Ivanov, Deputy Director and Director of Forensic DNA Unit of the Federal Center of Forensic Medical Expertise (FCFME) at the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, 3) M.D. Elena Zemskova, Head of Casework DNA Typing Lab.

Two of Russia’s most reputable scientists from the Federal Center of Forensic Medical Expertise (FCFME) at the Ministry of Health of Russian Federation completed their two-day visit to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Dr. Pavel Ivanov, Deputy Director and Director of Forensic DNA Unit of the Federal Center of Forensic Medical Expertise (FCFME) at the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and M.D. Elena Zemskova, Head of Casework DNA Typing Lab, toured ICMP’s Sarajevo HQ and the DNA forensic facilities where they were informed about ICMP’s DNA identification efforts and its scientific work methods.

The FCFME is the Russian Federation’s central forensic DNA institution with a workload of many thousands of cases per year. FCFME’s scientists successfully helped in the identification of victims of numerous terrorist attacks, airplane crashes and large-scale disasters, some of which are: the 2009 Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro plant accident, the 2010 Polish airplane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczyński, the February 2004 Moscow Metro bomb attack and many other terrorist attacks on Russian soil, as well as the DNA testing of possible living heirs to the Russian Czar Nicholas II.

“We are thankful to our host for this extremely informational visit. ICMP’s experience is unique in the world and we feel privileged to have seen its activities first hand. Although our laboratories work on thousands of cases each year, for us this is a new concept and one that we will try to replicate in our future work, especially when it comes to our ambitious plans in the North Caucasus and the planned creation of Russia’s central DNA database. To witness ICMP’s impressive protocols of DNA extraction from old bones, the powerful and effective system that ensures an unbiased approach in politically sensitive regions, the methods of data collection from family members of missing persons in addition to a robust DNA laboratory system - proved very useful in our short visit and we look forward to continued cooperation with ICMP”, said Dr. Pavel Ivanov, Deputy Director and Director of Forensic DNA Unit of the Federal Center of Forensic Medical Expertise (FCFME) at the Ministry of Health of Russian Federation, following the visit to ICMP facilities.

“ICMP is delighted to have received a visit from such preeminent Russian forensic experts, especially as they come from a highly acclaimed and successful institution such as FCFME. This further demonstrates ICMP’s readiness to share knowledge and expertise that ICMP has collected over the years. We are looking forward to expanding our cooperation with the Russian forensic DNA scientists”, said Dr. Tom Parsons, ICMP’s Director of Forensic Sciences.

ICMP is actively involved in helping governments and other institutions in various parts of the world address social and political issues related to missing persons and establish effective identification systems in the wake of conflict or natural disaster.

ICMP endeavors to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.