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Ed Yeates ReportingA delegation from Thailand is in Salt Lake this week, hoping to form a partnership with a Utah company that's been helping identify victims of the Tsunami. One of the visitors is that country's most visible and outspoken scientists, dubbed Dr. Death by the media.
Dr. Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan's(Pawntip) (Rojana-Soo-non's) contemporary spike and colored hair make her stand out in any crowd. But she's respected, wearing the honorary title KunYing from her government because of her work in forensic science.
After the Tsunami disaster, the media dubbed her Dr. Death because of her dedicated mission to process and identify the dead. Despite her political conflicts with the police there, who don't like all the attention she's getting, she's made her government aware of the need for more DNA profiling.
Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, M.D./Deputy Director, Central Institute of Forensic Science: "If we have no traditional data, which means fingerprints or dental records, only DNA can help. And in many groups of the dead, there are three generations of the family, so there are no relatives remaining in that place."
But it's not just all the Tsunami dead. Dr. Porntip wants her government to set up DNA criminal profiling within the Ministry of Justice. She's hoping Utah based Sorensen Genomics, which provided expertise and DNA testing kits for the disaster itself, will expand its partnership even more.
Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, M.D.: "I believe in the Buddhist, maybe the spirits of the dead want me to improve the forensic science in the justice system and to set up a missing person bureau."
Thailand has 10-thousand unidentified remains each year awaiting identification. In addition to the partnership with the Sorensen Group, Dr. Porntip is setting up her own foundation in her country to raise the money to pay for the training of her people in this very important DNA science. Dr. Porntip would like teams of her own scientists to come to Utah to learn specifics about the Sorensen Group's unique DNA technology.