Prof. Munirul Alam, PhD

Prof. Dr. Munirul Alam

Senior Scientist,
Infectious Disease Division,
International Center for Diarrhoeal Diseases Resaerch, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B)   www.icddrb.org

Plenary Talk: Microbial Forensics : Genomics to Metagenomics

Abstract: The term Forensic refers to using science and technology to investigate and establish true facts in criminal or civil courts of law. Microbial Forensics combines principles of public health epidemiology to identify patterns in a disease outbreak, determine which pathogen may be involved, and trace the organism to its source and how it was spreading. Historically, Microbial Forensics as a scientific discipline has evolved to reveal the source attribute by combining circumstantial evidences, physical, chemical, and related functional biological attributes, including the DNA fingerprints of an infectious agent. Like in forensics of criminology identifying a criminal, microbial forensics helps to identify the source of an infectious agent, including the perpetrator(s) in case of a bioterrorism act. Deliberate or inadvertent use of biological agents poses substantial dangers to individuals, the environment, the economy, and the public health. Forensics is not all about identifying perpetrator(s), but also to ensure that no innocent person is entangled, convicted and sentenced for what he or she has no relevance to. While Microbial Forensic as a discipline is in the developmental stage with many scientific challenges to overcome, the Whole Genome Sequencing bioinformatics and computational biology-based single nucleotide polymorphisms, for example, have revolutionized this science in respect to robustness and precision. This paper will focus on Microbial Forensics with emphasis on the Public Health aspects of Genomics and Metagenomics in Bangladesh.