Areas of research

Providing any service to the NSW community requires well developed plans (particularly infrastructure and appropriate costings), sound implementation and, to ensure that the service continues to remain relevant, a vision of the future. The latter is where research makes a contribution because it ensures that there are always new ideas sought and tested.

Our research priorities

Medical Imaging
What is the value of medical imaging in the NSW coronial postmortem? In particular, the role of CT scanning is considered to be a central component of the examination of the dead. The immediate goal of the Network is to develop this facility in Sydney’s Glebe Forensic Medicine site and once operational to identify the role of this type of imaging in the modern forensic service. This facility would also be available to appropriate HREC-approved research applications.

Australian Synchrotron
Are there potential research applications for the recently opened Australian synchrotron in Victoria? A/Prof Tony Masters in the School of Chemistry at the University is using this state-of-art technology to study trace finger prints.

Research activities

Donlon, Dr Denise

Recent publications
  • Donlon, D, In press 'The Development and Current State of Forensic Anthropology: An Australian Perspective'.
    Ch.8 In Blau, S. and Ubelaker, D. (eds) Forensic Anthropology in Australia. Left Coast Press, California.
  • Griffin, R. and Donlon, D. In press. 'Patterns in dental enamel hypoplasia by sex and age at death: a possible insight into hypoplasia aetiology?' Archives of Oral Biology, doi:10.1016/j.archoralbio.2008.09.012.
  • Donlon, D. 2008. 'Forensic anthropology in Australia: A brief history and review of casework', Ch 7 in Oxenham, M. (ed.) pp.97-110, Forensic Approaches to Death, Disaster and Abuse. Perth: Western Australia University Press.
  • McDonald, J., Donlon, D., Field, J., Fullager, R., Coltrain, J.B. and Rawson,M. 2007. 'The first archaeological evidence for death by spearing in Australia'. Antiquity. Vol 81(314): 877-886
  • Griffin, R.C. and Donlon, D. 2007 Dental enamel hypoplasias and health change in the Middle Bronze Age - Early Iron Age transition at Pella in Jordan. Homo: Journal of Comparative Human Biology 58: 211-220.
  • Adler CJ, Donlon D. 2007 'A multivariate analysis for sex determination from deciduous, morphometric crown traits'. Homo-Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 58(3): 235-236.
  • Croker, S.L., Reed, W. and Donlon. 2007 'A radiographic comparison of the cortical bone thickness in the radius of humans and kangaroos'. Homo-Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 58(3):242-243.
  • Argue, D, Donlon, D, Groves, C. and Wright, RSV 2006 'Homo floresiensis: Microcephalic, pygmoid, Australopithecus or Homo?' Journal of Human Evolution 51: 360-374.
  • Wood, W, Briggs, C and Donlon, D 2002 'Forensic Osteology', Chapter 35. In Freckelton, I and Selby, H. Expert Evidence. Thomson Lawbook Co. North Ryde, NSW. pp. 3/601 - 3/802. ISBN 045510780

Duflou, Prof Jo

Major research activities in the Glebe Department of Forensic Medicine include:

  • Sudden cardiac death in the young
  • illicit drug toxicology
  • forensic neuropathology
  • suicide in young adults
  • grief counseling.
Recent publications
  • Chase J, Donaldson L, Duflou J, Gorrie C. 'Safety restraint injuries in fatal motor vehicle collisions'. Forensic Science, Medicine & Pathology 2007;3:258-263.
  • Lim C, Duflou J. 'Hypothermia fatalities in a temperate climate: Sydney, Australia'. Pathology 2008;40:46-51.
  • Darke S, Duflou J. 'Toxicology and circumstances of death of homicide victims in New South Wales, Australia 1996-2005'. Journal of Forensic Sciences 2008;53:447-451.
  • Chan P, Duflou J. 'Suicidal electrocution in Sydney, Australia - a 10 year review'. Journal of Forensic Sciences 2008;53:455-459.
  • Darke S, Kaye S, McKetin R, Duflou J. 'The major physical and psychological harms of methamphetamine use'. Drug and Alcohol Review 2008;27:253-262.
  • Tu E, Twigg S, Duflou J, Semsarian C. 'Causes of death in young Australians with type 1 diabetes: A review of coronial post mortem cases'. Medical Journal of Australia 2008;188:699-702.
  • Puranik R, Fox O, Duflou J, Bao S. 'Premature coronary artery disease in Australian men: an autopsy study' (abstract). Heart, Lung and Circulation 2008;17(S3):S105.
  • Tu E, Twigg S, Duflou J, Semsarian C. 'Sudden unexplained death in young Australians with type 1 diabetes mellitus: Clinical and genetic analysis of "dead in bed" cases' (abstract). Heart, Lung and Circulation 2008;17(S3):S133.
  • Skinner J, Duflou J, Semsarian C. 'Reducing sudden death in the young in Australia and New Zealand: the TRAGADY initiative' (Editorial). Medical Journal of Australia 2008;189:539-540.
  • May A, Fulde G, Duflou J, Mengersen K, Read-Allsopp C. 'External injury documentation is inadequate: Grounds for routine photography in the emergency department'. Emergency Medicine Australasia 2008;20:500-507.

Furedy, Prof John

Research interests include:

Hayes AO, Prof Susan

People with intellectual disability (ID) are over-represented in the justice system, both as victims and offenders. They may often have a dual diagnosis of ID and mental illness. There are a great many issues regarding this group where expert psychological evidence is relevant to the case, including fitness to be tried, capacity to understand the oath and give evidence, sentencing, and whether various legislative provisions pertain to the accused or the victim. Police may request a psychological assessment to determine whether the victim has ID which will enable charges to be laid under sections of the Crimes Act where the victim has ID. Expert psychological evidence may also be sought in cases where people with ID have entered into contracts, the issue being whether they understood the nature and effect of the contract. An assessment may be required concerning the individual's capacity to consent to medical treatment. A further area of significance is parents with ID and whether they have sufficient parenting capacity to care for their children. Over-arching all of these areas is assessment of the individual's intellectual and adaptive skills, and advice to the court regarding provisions that may need to be implemented in court to allow the individual to give evidence in the most accurate manner. Research has been conducted into the prevalence of people with intellectual disabilities in all sections of the criminal justice system, including appearances before courts, in legal aid centres, and in prisons; the prevalence of dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and mental illness or substance abuse has also been investigated. Further research is underway in the areas of victims of crime with intellectual disabilities and women offenders with intellectual disabilities.

Lain, Dr Russell

Research activity is commonly in facial recognition studies in conjunction with anthropologists (with the research product of interest to policing and security agencies); age estimation studies (same groups, as well as archaeologists in historical casework) and; bitemark recording, analysis and presentation.

Masters, A/Prof Tony

Research interests include trace fingerprinting and the synchrotron.

Shewan, Dr Louise

Methodological tools employed in archaeological research may find useful applications in forensic contexts. The measurement of stable and radiogenic isotope ratios in archaeological human skeletal material has been used to investigate dietary preferences, geographic and climatic characterisation of domicile, and to examine the residential mobility of ancient people. In modern contexts, isotopic analysis has also been used to trace illegally obtained rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory, to characterise wildlife movement and migratory fish, for quantifying atmospheric inputs, and used to authenticate the geographic terroir of wine.

Trent, Prof Ron

Molecular (DNA) testing in complex multifactorial genetic disorders particularly the interaction of genes and environment. As part of this work new DNA based technology needs to be utilised and developed.

Recent publications
  • Saunderson RB, Yu B, Trent RJA, Pamphlett R. 'An analysis of the enteroviral binding domains of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and coxsackie adenovirus receptor in motor neuron disease'. Amylotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 2007;8:26-30.
  • Morahan JM, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'Are metallothein genes silenced in ALS?' Toxicology Letters 2007;168:83-87.
  • Saunderson RB, Yu B, Trent RJA, Pamphlett R. 'Low yield in screening patients with sporadic motor neuron disease for Kennedy disease'. Internal Medicine Journal 2007;37:772-774.
  • Morahan JM, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'A gene-environment study of the paraoxonase 1 gene and pesticides in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'. Neurotoxicology 2007;28:532-540.
  • Myles S, Hradetsky E, Engelken J, Lao, O, Nurnberg P, Trent RJ, Wang, Z, Kayser M, Stoneking M. 'Identification of a candidate genetic variant for the high prevalence of type II diabetes in Polynesians'. European Journal of Human Genetics 2007;15:584-589.
  • Kayser M, Oscar L, Saar K, Brauer S, Wang X, Nurnberg P, Trent RJ, Stoneking M. 'Genome wide analysis indicates more Asian than Melanesian ancestry of Polynesians'. American Journal of Human Genetics 2008;82:194-198.
  • Saunderson RB, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'A comparison of the lengths of androgen receptor triplet repeats in brain and blood in motor neuron diseases'. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 2008;267:125-128.
  • Kayser M, Choi Y, van Oven M, Mona S, Brauer S, Trent RJ, Suarkia D, Schiefenhovel W, Stoneking M. 'The impact of the Autronesian expansion: evidence from mtDNA and Y-chromosome diversity in the Admiralty Islands of Melanesia'. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2008;25:1362-1374.
  • Luquin N, Yu B, Trent RJ, Morahan JM, Pamphlett R. 'An analysis of the entire SOD1 gene in sporadic ALS'. Neuromuscular Research, 2008;18:545-552.
  • Luquin N, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'DHPLC can be used to detect low level mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 2008 in press.
  • Textbook: Trent RJ. Molecular Medicine. An introductory text 3rd edition, 2005, pp 1-310, Academic Press.

Yu, Dr Bing

Molecular (DNA) testing in complex multifactorial genetic disorders particularly the interaction of genes and environment. As part of this work new DNA based technology needs to be utilised and developed.

Recent publications
  • Saunderson RB, Yu B, Trent RJA, Pamphlett R. 'An analysis of the enteroviral binding domains of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and coxsackie adenovirus receptor in motor neuron disease'. Amyotroph Lateral Sc 2007; 8: 26-30.
  • Morahan JM, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'Are metallothein genes silenced in ALS?' Toxicology Letters 2007; 168: 83-87.
  • Saunderson RB, Yu B, Trent RJA, Pamphlett R. 'Low yield in screening patients with sporadic motor neuron disease for Kennedy disease'. Internal Medicine Journal 2007; 37: 772-774.
  • Morahan JM, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'A gene-environment study of the paraoxonase 1 gene and pesticides in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'. Neurotoxicology 2007; 28: 532-540.
  • Saunderson RB, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'A comparison of the lengths of androgen receptor triplet repeats in brain and blood in motor neuron diseases'. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 2008;267: 125-128.
  • Luquin N, Yu B, Trent RJ, Morahan JM, Pamphlett R. 'An analysis of the entire SOD1 gene in sporadic ALS'. Neuromuscular Research, 2008;18:545-552.
  • Xiang J, Li XY, Xu M, Hong J, Hung Y, Tan JR, Lu X, Dai M, Yu B, Ning G. 'Zinc transporter-8 gene (SLC30A8) is associated with type 2 diabetes in Chinese'. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2008; 93: 4107-4112.
  • Luquin N, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'DHPLC can be used to detect low level mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 2008 in press.
  • Morahan JM, Yu B, Trent RJ, Pamphlett R. 'A genome-wide analysis of brain DNA methylation identifies new candidate genes for sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 2008 in press
  • Yu B. 'Role of in silico tools in gene discovery'. Molecular Biotechnology, 2008 in press