UNTHSC to help identify up to 20,000 found in LibyaA€AsAms mass graves

January 30, 2013

DNA experts at the UNT Health Science Center will help train Libyan scientists to analyze the remains of an estimated 20,000 people found in mass graves in Libya following the uprising of 2011 in an effort to identify them. The mass graves are thought to contain remains of people who went missing during the 42-year regime of Muammar Gaddafi.  The identification work is expected to take several years.

The Libyan scientists will be trained at the Center for Human Identification at UNTHSC in Fort Worth, Texas, under the direction and supervision of world-renowned forensic scientist  Arthur Eisenberg, PhD, chairman and professor of Forensic and Investigative Genetics at UNTHSC. The Libyan scientists will then lead a new lab that is being developed in Tripoli and is scheduled to be ready later this year. Laboratory equipment for the DNA analysis is provided by Life Technologies, a leader in forensic DNA technologies.

"The University of North Texas Health Science Center, with its extensive experience in the identification of missing persons and human decedents, is extremely pleased to partner with Life Technologies in the training of the Libyan forensic scientists to help them complete their mission," said Eisenberg, who also serves as director of the UNT Center for Human Identification.

The humanitarian project is funded in part by Repsol, a Spanish-based oil company which donated $2.5 million through its foundation to the Libyan government in 2012 to help establish a state-of-the-art laboratory to identify and generate profiles from human remains as well as generate references from associated relatives of missing people.

The Center is a world leader in forensic genetics, and its scientists have participated in such high-profile identification efforts as those associated with the Pinochet regime in Chile, and the World Trade Center victims after the terrorist attacks of  9/11.

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