Professor Walther Parson
Head of Forensic Genomics, Institute of Legal Medicine, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria
Walther Parson holds an associate professorship at the Institute of Legal Medicine, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria and an adjunct professorship at the Pennsylvania State University. Together with his colleagues he set up the Austrian National DNA Database Laboratory in 1997 in Innsbruck, where he currently supervises the High Through-put DNA Database Laboratory and the research group Forensic Genomics. Professor Parson is representing Austria in international boards including the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) DNA Working Group and the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) and he is an elected active member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He served as President of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) from 2015-2019 and is currently Vice-President. His research focuses on various fields of genetics and genomics and he entertains collaborations with other fields of research such as anthropology, archaeology, mathematics and history. His group was repeatedly consigned to handle international requests on Forensic DNA fingerprinting of victims of mass fatalities (e.g., the 2004 Tsunami, the 1973 victims Chile, the 2014 Missing Mexican students), international human identification cases (e.g., the Russian Tsar family Romanov) and identification of historic individuals (e.g., Friedrich von Schiller, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart). His group developed (1999-2006) and has since been curating the EDNAP Mitochondrial DNA Population Database (EMPOP; https://empop.online), the world’s largest forensic mitochondrial DNA database for forensic purposes, as well as the STRs for Identity ENFSI Reference Database (STRidER; https://strider.online) to quality control and disseminate Short Tandem Repeat allele frequencies and sequenced alleles. His current research is focussing on predictive DNA analysis, also known as Forensic DNA Phenotyping. He and his group partner in the EU Horizon 2020 Research Project VISAGE (http://www.visage-h2020.eu), for which they develop and validate molecular genetic tools for the prediction of appearance, ancestry and age.