Facial genetics and forensics take centre stage at ECR

Watch this session on ECR Live: Friday, March 3, 10:30–12:00, Room B

Forensics and facial genetics will be in the spotlight at ECR 2017 as the ‘ESR meets Belgium’ session offer a look at medical imaging’s most original contributions to healthcare and crime investigation.

Advanced decomposition of brain MRI or facial 3D surface images into modules, tailored for associations with underlying genetic variations.

Dr. Peter Claes from Leuven, Belgium, will present his work in facial genetics in a session titled ‘Imaging genetics and beyond: facial reconstruction and identification’.

Claes is a senior research expert in the Medical Image Computing research group of the Processing of Speech and Images division of the Electrical Engineering department at Leuven Catholic University.

He uses CT, MRI and 3D surface imaging modalities to grasp the link between people’s appearance and underlying genetic variations.

“Your appearance is genetically driven. In families there’s a strong link, even more so between identical twins, who share the same DNA profile and almost the same face. Physical features also influence your brain, the way you think. A lot of facial characteristics are shared, for example in Down’s syndrome patients, who present with the same features whether they are European or Asian,” he explained.

The link between genetic disorders and facial genes has been of interest to scientists for a while, but research is slow and tedious.

Claes became interested in facial genetics after working in craniofacial morphometrics to help correct morphological abnormalities and anomalies, and in craniofacial reconstruction to identify victims.

To help decipher facial genetics, Claes uses the computer-based craniofacial reconstruction programme he developed for victim identification, and combines 3D surface processing, statistical modelling, analysis, mapping and prediction techniques. He has also created an array of algorithms and software for investigators who plan to use 3D facial datasets. Last year, he also co-organised the first international workshop on facial genetics in London.

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