Prof. Titia Sijen (b. 1967) has been named professor by special appointment of Forensic Human Biology at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Science. The chair was established on behalf of a foundation, Stichting Leerstoel Criminalistiek (Crime Chair Foundation), and is being facilitated by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). Sijen will be combining her work as professor by special appointment with her position as team leader and senior scientific researcher at the NFI.
The sooner relevant, forensic biological information becomes available, the quicker and more effectively criminal investigations will be able to be carried out. This means that there is a great need for simple techniques that can provide information about relevant cell material as quickly as possible, both in the laboratory and at the crime scene. Research into the transmission and creation of traces could also lead to a better interpretation of the traces that are found, of how and when they were created.
As professor at the UvA, Sijen will be conducting research into human forensic biological traces at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS). This will include DNA research methods for searching, selecting, securing and identifying biological traces, including mixed biological traces. One of the main focuses will be on developing methods for clearly identifying crime-related cellular material, with epigenetic profiling possibly playing an important role. The ultimate goal is to be able to apply the research results in forensic practice.
Increasingly, objective scientific research is being called upon with regard to evidence in criminal cases, and it is playing an increasingly important role in investigations. This requires highly trained forensic experts, as well as linking scientific research, education and forensic case investigation. For over a decade, the UvA and the NFI have been working together closely in teaching and research. The Co van Ledden Hulsebosch Center (CLHC) is an example of this. With Sijen as professor by special appointment, this collaboration will be intensified. In addition to her research, Sijen will teach be teaching Master's students in Forensic Science and coordinating the Advancing Forensic Biology course, in order to link teaching, research and forensic practice even more closely.
Sijen has been team leader and senior scientific researcher at the NFI in The Hague since 2007. Her earlier activities included acting as postgraduate researcher at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology & Stem Cell Research and at the VUmc Genetics Department at Amsterdam UMC. Sijen has played a leading role in the development, validation and implementation of various investigation methods.