Report: 12th EAMHMS Workshop, 2015, in Wroclaw

A report by Willem. J. Mulder.

For the full report see the Newsletter 2015 (no.1)

The workshop took place in Wroclaw, Poland from 24 – 26 September 2015. The main theme was ‘Non-destructive DNA Techniques in Historical Materials.’ The Forensic Institute of the Medical University in Wroclaw organised this event in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and the Chancellor of the Wroclaw Medical University under the lead of the very skilled and enthusiastic initiator Professor Dr Tadeusz Dobosz. The 33 participants came from various European countries.

Prof. Dobosz gave an extensive overview of the relatively short history of the research in genes and sources of cell biology. A number of practical techniques were demonstrated: how to obtain samples from bones, teeth and other materials such as bloodstains. Step by step, the various techniques were illustrated and an explanation given as to their purpose and the problems to expect.

Prof. Richard Slomsky (Poznan University of Life Sciences) presented a second keynote presentation about DNA in practice. His overview of the history of aurochs in relation to the African buffalo, water buffalo, muskox, yak, wisent or bison was not only informative, but also surprising and well explained.

The scientific programme was closed by a video film ‘Origins of the DNA Sequencer,’ assembled and introduced by Dr Ramunas Kondratas (Director of the University Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania).

Dr Miron Tokarski M.Sc. (Wroclaw Medical University) did a tremendous job in leading a group of analysts who presented actual practice. He also took care of information regarding accommodation and transport, guided participants and saw to their needs during excursions and so on.

We owe Professor Dobosz, Miron Tokarski and their team many thanks for all their efforts. Thanks to the generous support of the Board of the EAMHMS the workshop was financially well covered. We are grateful to have been able to support a number of participants in their travel and/or accommodation.

As I announced previously, this was the last workshop that I helped to organise. I did so with much pleasure and, as I have often said, the exchange of knowledge and skills between museum staff is very important indeed. So I do hope my successor coordinator, Dr Vasily Dogusov of the National History Museum in Kiev, Ukraine, will enjoy this role as much as I did. I also hope that the EAMHMS will continue to support the workshops, which were initiated by the late Professor Arons from the Paul Stradin Medical History Museum in Riga in 1993. I thank all the participants and organisations that have placed their trust in me over the years and on all occasions.

Willem J. Mulder, Coordinator