Forensic Medicine

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Research Summary

Our research projects encompass a wide range of topics through forensic autopsies, and current activities are focused on six themes: individual identification using DNA, objective assessment methods of traffic accident injuries, compensation medicine, forensic toxicology, history of medicine, and bioethics.

Individual identification using DNA polymorphisms
We established a nonisotopic method for DNA fingerprinting, the cold method, first in Japan. Moreover, we have investigated species discrimination and gender distinction using a PCR method. We developed the method of identifying female gender by demonstrating a band from the inactivated X chromosome, which only females have. In studies on individual identification with the use of combined microsatellite polymorphisms (STR polymorphisms), we are investigating haplotype analysis of multiple STR polymorphisms on the identical chromosome and the occurrence of mutations using family screening.

Objective assessment methods of traffic accident injuries
We are classifying and coding traffic accident injuries using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 and the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS)-90 to create an online database of traffic injuries including accident situations. We report these results to the Japanese Society of Legal Medicine, The Japanese Council of Traffic Science, etc.

Compensation Medicine
We are conducting collaborative research on actual cases and judicial precedents of traffic and medical accidents with investigators involved in legal medicine and workers dealing with accident insurance policies. We also report these results to the Japanese Society of Compensation Science, the Japan association of Traffic Law, etc. In particular, we analyze shortening of life expectancy by diseases and contributory degrees of causal relationships between accidents and diseases based on medical data.

Forensic toxicology
We analyze mainly alcohol concentrations and medicinal toxicants in forensic autopsies. We aim to establish an analytical system of medicinal toxicants in clinical settings including emergency medical services in Niigata prefecture in close cooperation with Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Science and the Research Institute of Police Science of the Niigata Police as well as the Faculty of Pharmacology and the Department of Emergency Medicine at our university. We are considering the possible contribution of legal medicine to the whole system of emergency medicine.

History of medicine
We are investigating the history of medicine focusing on the history of legal medicine. We are contacting investigators all over the nation, mainly exchanging information with members of the Japanese Society for the History of Medicine.

We are conducting collaborative research on bioethics with Michio Miyasaka, the professor of the School of Health Science. We hold a monthly seminar on the Niigata bioethics workshop with investigators in the fields of law, philosophy, ethics, psychology and midwifery and exchange opinions mainly about actual cases. We report our work efforts to the Japan Association of Bioethics and other scientific meetings in Japan and foreign countries.