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Scientist glued to genes
RAJNI TRIVEDI

Facilitating the process of criminal justice by churning out crucial forensic clues for the investigative agencies and the judiciary is all in a day’s work for her. She has studied, among various things, the genotoxic effect of the MIC gas on the population of Bhopal. At present, she is busy with plant genetics to help the Indian farmer and a DNA database to empower the government and aid medicinal science.

Dr Rajni Trivedi, recipient of this year’s Union home minister’s Award for Meritorious Service in Forensic Science has made contributions in more fields than one. The assistant director at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), at Park Circus, has won the award in the biological science category for her contributions in creating a DNA database for the country.

“This is a Herculean task given the wide variety of population groups in our country. We started the project four years back here, the country’s only DNA laboratory, after identifying 451 populations across the country. We expect to complete the project within a year and a half,” says Trivedi, who did her post-doctorate from the King George Medical College and Harvard Medical School, USA.

The database is drawn up along the lines of CODIS, combined DNA index of the world population, created in advanced nations and can be used as a tool to arrest globalisation of crime and diseases. Besides, it will also aid gene therapy and facilitate research projects studying human evolution.

For the middle-aged scientist, however, the key focus area of research revolves around identifying genetic markers, their suitability in forensic testing and development of DNA database. This, according to Trivedi, will have unique significance in evaluation of DNA evidence in crime and family matters. Already a known name in the field of forensic science, Trivedi’s articles have found a place in prestigious publications like the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Journal of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Science International.

A researcher to the core, Trivedi can invariably be seen at her office glued to the automatic DNA sequencers or busy writing her next articles. With her team of 16 researchers, she spends most of the day in the DNA Typing Unit.

“Ours is an organisation which provides services to the government and its various agencies. But we also conduct some serious academic research. So there is hardly any time after all that,” smiles Trivedi, also a visiting faculty at the National University of Juridical Sciences. But she doesn’t visit the Salt Lake campus. Instead, students troop down to get a glimpse of the fascinating world of forensics, while spending time with “Ma’am”.

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