We appear to be following a medical theme of late! February’s meeting focussed on the progress of The Grange University Hospital and this month, March we were delighted and privileged to welcome Dr Rhian Morgan from Wales Gene Park to talk about DNA, forensics and crime. Special mention should also be made of her chauffeur Dad who brought her to Ponthir as she is currently wearing a walking boot after a serious ankle injury. A brave man, Mr Morgan in splendid isolation amongst the great and the good ladies of Ponthir W.I.
And what a fascinating presentation it was! The discovery of Deoxyribo Nuclear Acid – DNA to you and me – is relatively recent, taking place in September 1984. Now it permeates so many aspects of our lives. Our individual DNA structure – or genome – is unique and whilst 99.9% of the DNA between humans is the same, it is the 9.01 difference in our genetic make up that makes us distinctive.
How are those DNA profiles used? Rhian talked us through several “cold cases” and showed us how DNA can be obtained from bodily fluids and can help prove guilt or innocence of a suspect – in conjunction with other evidence. She explained how DNA analysis was used to prove that the SS Captain Josef Mengele – The Angel of Death – escaped to Brazil at the end of World War 2 where he drowned in 1979. Testing was also used to disprove the claim of an Anastasia Romanov imposter and since then all the family’s bodies have been identified using DNA and other forensic evidence.
Rhian also told us how to extract our own DNA using basic ingredients – but that’s a story for another day! It was a most informative , yet, entertaining evening – diolch yi fawr iawn, Dr Rhian Morgan – thoroughly enjoyed by all!
As for April – well, ever innovative m we are going to learn about the benefits of Chair Yoga and have a go! If you would like to find out more come along to Ponthir Village Hall on Monday April 6th at 7pm – you will be very welcome!