Dr. Mark Barash has joined the Centre for Forensic Sciences at UTS as a post-doctoral research associate in 2015. The main aim of his research is developing a SNP-based panel, specially designed for predicting externally visible characteristics such as facial appearance, pigmentation and also biogeographic ancestry.
Mark obtained his PhD in Forensic Genetics from Bond University (Queensland, Australia) in 2014. His PhD research focused on identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms affecting normal craniofacial variation. During 1995 to 2001 Mark undertook his Bachelor of Science (Life Sciences) and Master of Science (Microbiology) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Prior to Academic career, Mr Barash spent more than 8 years working with the Israeli Police as Reporting Officer (forensic DNA expert) at the rank of Chief Inspector. He was involved in examining forensic specimens from hundreds of criminal cases, including homicide, sexual assaults, robbery and volume crime.
Currently there is a lack of precious information to understand the factors behind the craniofacial developmental process. This research would extend our knowledge of genetics behind normal facial appearance and enable us to better understand this complex process. In the forensic perspective, identifying a set of SNPs involved in the formation of cranial shape and facial features and potentially developing an assay, will allow the DNA molecule to "talk" and as a result, to draw a "molecular portrait" from the DNA sample.
Such ‘genetic eyewitness’ evidence on the physical characteristics of a mass disaster victims or of a potential offender/POI would offer great advantage for low enforcement, military and intelligence agencies. Information concerning the physical appearance of an individual would significantly enhance identification efforts and clarify conventional eye witness account as well as features proposed by forensic artists when rendering facial reconstructions for public dissemination.
Dr. Barash has co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles on subjects ranging from DNA extraction methods to human genetics and presented at numerous national and international conferences.
Can supervise: YES
Genetics and prediction of the externally visible characteristics such as facial apperance, pigmentation, personality types and biogeografic ancestry.
Forensic DNA analysis
Next Generation Sequencing
Craniofacial anthropometry and facial reconstraction
Human demographic history
Prasad, E, Barash, M, Hitchcock, C, van Oorschot, RAH, Raymond, J, McNevin, D & Gunn, P 2020, 'Evaluation of soaking to recover trace DNA from fired cartridge cases', AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Phan, K, Barash, M, Spindler, X, Gunn, P & Roux, C 2020, 'Retrieving forensic information about the donor through bacterial profiling.', International Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 134, no. 1, pp. 21-29.View/Download from: Publisher's site
When fingermarks are left on a surface, bacteria originating from the donor's skin are also deposited. The skin microbiome is believed to be extremely diverse between individuals, allowing for potential matching between the bacterial communities and touched objects, known as "bacterial profiling". This study stepped further and investigated how the bacterial profile could be used as an indicator of donor characteristics of potential forensic intelligence interest. Forty-five participants were asked to touch DNA-free playing cards with their dominant and non-dominant hands. Cards were swabbed and bacterial communities determined through 16S rRNA sequencing. Diversity and abundance of bacteria were compared to donor characteristics of gender, age, ethnicity, handedness, home location, sample location, occupation, diet type, use of moisturisers, use of hand sanitisers and use of public transport. Correlations between the bacterial profile with gender, ethnicity, diet type and hand sanitiser use were found. Specifically, the absence of Lactococcus indicated a primarily Chinese diet, while the absence of Alloiococcus indicated female gender, Asian ethnicity and hand sanitiser use. Testing of the prediction models demonstrated highest accuracy for gender estimation, while the prediction of other characteristics showed lower success. This study showed a correlation between the presence of certain bacterial species on donor's hands and personal characteristics of potential forensic relevance, thus demonstrating a novel application of microbiome genotyping in forensic science.
McNevin, D, Wright, K, Chaseling, J & Barash, M 2019, 'Commentary on: Bright et al. (2018) Internal validation of STRmix™ - a multi laboratory response to PCAST, Forensic Science International: Genetics, 34: 11-24.', Forensic science international. Genetics, vol. 41, pp. e14-e17.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Prasad, E, Van der Walt, L, Cole, A, van Oorschot, RAH, Barash, M, Gunn, P & Raymond, J 2019, 'The effects of soaking for DNA recovery on the striation patterns of fired cartridge cases', Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 51, no. S1, pp. S35-S38.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019, © 2019 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences. The recovery of trace DNA from fired cartridge cases has recently gained increased interest throughout the literature, with a variety of methods currently being explored. Soaking fired cartridge cases in a lysis buffer holds potential in producing meaningful DNA profiles; however, chemical interactions between the lysis buffer and brass cartridge cases may limit the efficacy of this method. This preliminary study examines the effects of soaking on the microscopic striation detail of brass and nickel 9 mm Parabellum (9 mmP) calibre and.22 Long Rifle (.22LR) calibre fired cartridge cases. Headstamp and coarse striation patterns on 9 mmP fired cartridge cases and finer striation patterns along the outer wall of.22LR fired cartridge cases were microscopically examined prior to and following soaking. Soaking was performed by submerging the fired cartridge cases in 380 µl of ATL buffer (Qiagen, Germany) for 20 minutes. Microscopic analysis of brass and nickel 9 mmP and.22LR fired cartridge cases showed that coarse and fine striation detail remain unaffected following soaking. These results indicate that comparative ballistics examinations may be performed following DNA recovery using the soaking method.
Wai, KT, Gunn, P & Barash, M 2019, 'Development of the MitoQ assay as a real-time quantification of mitochondrial DNA in degraded samples.', International Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 133, no. 2, pp. 411-417.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mitochondrial DNA is a reliable genetic material for estimating maternally related haplogroups and ancestries. Exploring maternal DNA inheritance is particularly useful when nuclear DNA is degraded or limited, as the copy number of mitochondrial DNA is far greater than the copy number of nuclear DNA. Normal mitochondrial DNA copy number has been estimated to 100 copies per buccal epithelial cell, 4000 copies in skeletal cells and 7000 copies in myocardial cells. This estimation is usually performed via extrapolation from the nuclear DNA quantitation. It is essential to reduce this variability and accurately quantify the exact number of copies of mitochondrial DNA, especially in compromised samples of a forensic or ancient nature. While useful, the testing of mitochondrial DNA is often long and costly and comes with limited success. The accurate quantification of mitochondrial DNA using specific quantitative PCR assays can be used to make better decisions on the downstream testing and success of amplification. As a result, this study develops a real-time assay for the quantification of mitochondrial DNA copy number and assesses its performance on a set of degraded DNA samples. The developed MitoQ assay has been shown to be highly specific to the human mitochondrial genome with no amplification of nuclear pseudogenes being observed and outperformed a previously published concordant assay. Additionally, a high sensitivity was measured to 280 copies of mitochondrial DNA. Minimal variation was observed between each replication cycle, indicating the assay to be robust and repeatable. Overall, this study presents a real-time assay that is sensitive and robust to quantifying mitochondrial DNA copy number in degraded samples. Furthermore, there is potential to incorporate the assay as an additional target in current qPCR assays which use a six-dye chemistry and provide a complete overview of a sample's quality and quantity.
Walton, A, Moret, S, Barash, M & Gunn, P 2019, 'The frequency of fingerprint patterns separated by ethnicity and sex in a general population from Sydney, Australia', Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 51, no. S1, pp. S162-S167.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Ruan, T, Barash, M, Gunn, P & Bruce, D 2018, 'Investigation of DNA transfer onto clothing during regular daily activities.', International Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 132, no. 4, pp. 1035-1042.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Low levels of DNA from an unidentified human source, often referred to as trace DNA, are ubiquitous, can be transferred onto objects by either direct or indirect methods and have an unknown longevity in situ. Clothing items from crime scenes are often submitted for trace DNA analysis, usually in attempt to identify a person of interest. This study examined the transfer of DNA onto three 10 × 10 cm areas located on the front, back and shoulder of an individual's external clothing (n = 300) during a regular day's activity. After wearing for a day, the DNA quantity on all three areas increased approximately 8-fold, which usually corresponded with an increase in the endogenous DNA from the wearer on the front area of the shirt. However, the back area of the shirt was more likely to demonstrate mixtures of endogenous and extraneous DNA. An additional study was also carried out to examine whether domestic laundering is a possible mechanism for the transfer of foreign DNA onto freshly laundered items and revealed that 74% of UV-treated cotton swatch samples produced DNA profiles after laundry with household garments. In summary, this study highlights the ease of DNA transfer onto an individual's external clothing during a regular day, and that extraneous DNA may be already on the clothing item prior to it being worn. The study provides empirical data to assist in the interpretation of trace DNA profiles and support a Bayesian approach to estimate statistical likelihoods for the transfer of foreign DNA. Graphical abstract ᅟ.
Voskoboinik, L, Amiel, M, Reshef, A, Gafny, R & Barash, M 2018, 'Laundry in a washing machine as a mediator of secondary and tertiary DNA transfer.', International Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 132, no. 2, pp. 373-378.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The aim of this work was to investigate the possibility of secondary and tertiary DNA transfer during laundry. The modes of transfer tested were mixed and separate laundry of worn and unworn garments in household and public washing machines. In addition, the possibility of a background DNA carry-over from a washing machine's drum was investigated. In the mixed (worn and unworn garments washed together) laundry experiment, 22% of samples from new unworn socks with no traceable DNA prior to experiment produced DNA profiles post-laundry. In the tertiary DNA transfer experiment performed in a public washing machine (unworn garments only), no detectable DNA profiles were observed. Samples collected from the internal drum of 25 washing and drying machines did not produce detectable STR profiles. The implications of these results are discussed in the context of forensic DNA casework analysis. Graphical Abstract ᅟA real-life scenario of secondary DNA transfer between worn and unworn garments during machine washing has been evaluated. Experiments demonstrated this scenario is possible (22% of samples) and may in fact result in high quality DNA profiles. On the contrary, testing washing machine's interior for deposition of biological material between separate washing cycles to serve as a mediator of tertiary DNA transfer resulted in no DNA profiles.
Wai, KT, Barash, M & Gunn, P 2018, 'Performance of the Early Access AmpliSeq™ Mitochondrial Panel with degraded DNA samples using the Ion Torrent™ platform.', Electrophoresis, vol. 39, no. 21, pp. 2776-2784.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Early Access AmpliSeq™ Mitochondrial Panel amplifies whole mitochondrial genomes for phylogenetic and kinship identifications, using Ion Torrent™ technology. There is currently limited information on its performance with degraded DNA, a common occurrence in forensic samples. This study evaluated the performance of the Panel with DNA samples degraded in vitro, to mimic conditions commonly found in forensic investigations. Purified DNA from five individuals was heat-treated at five time points each (125°C for 0, 30, 60, 120, and 240 min; total n = 25). The quality of DNA was assessed via a real-time DNA assay of genomic DNA and prepared for massively parallel sequencing on the Ion Torrent™ platform. Mitochondrial sequences were obtained for all samples and had an amplicon coverage averaging between 66X to 2803X. Most amplicons (157/162) displayed high coverages (452 ± 333X), while reads with less than 100X coverage were recorded in five amplicons only (90 ± 5X). Amplicon coverage was decreased with prolonged heating. At 72% strand balance, reads were well balanced between forward and reverse strands. Using a coverage threshold of ten reads per SNP, complete sequences were recovered in all samples and resolved kinship and, haplogroup relations. Additionally, the HV1 and HV2 regions of the reference and 240-min heat-treated samples (n = 10) were Sanger-sequenced for concordance. Overall, this study demonstrates the efficacy of a novel forensic Panel that recovers high quality mitochondrial sequences from degraded DNA samples.
Walton, AD, Moret, S, Gunn, P & Barash, M 2018, 'Comment on "Linkage analysis of a model quantitative trait in humans: Finger ridge count shows significant multivariate linkage to 5q14.1" by Medland et al., "Common Genetic Variants Influence Whorls in Fingerprint Patterns" by Ho et al. and "Hot on the Trail of Genes that Shape Our Fingerprints" by Walsh et al .', Forensic science international. Genetics, vol. 36, pp. e14-e16.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Morelato, M, Barash, M, Blanes, L, Chadwick, S, Dilag, J, Kuzhiumparambil, U, Nizio, KD, Spindler, X & Moret, S 2017, 'Forensic Science: Current State and Perspective by a Group of Early Career Researchers', Foundations of Science, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 799-825.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Forensic science and its influence on policing and the criminal justice system have increased since the beginning of the twentieth century. While the philosophies of the forensic science pioneers remain the pillar of modern practice, rapid advances in technology and the underpinning sciences have seen an explosion in the number of disciplines and tools. Consequently, the way in which we exploit and interpret the remnant of criminal activity are adapting to this changing environment. In order to best exploit the trace, an interdisciplinary approach to both research and investigation is required. In this paper, nine postdoctoral research fellows from a multidisciplinary team discuss their vision for the future of forensic science at the crime scene, in the laboratory and beyond. This paper does not pretend to be exhaustive of all fields of forensic science, but describes a portion of the postdoctoral fellows' interests and skills.
Hughes-Stamm, S, Barash, M, Grisedale, K & van Daal, A 2013, 'Initial Evaluation of A96-Plex Goldengate® Genotyping SNP Assay with Suboptimal and Whole Genome Amplified Samples', Journal of Forensic Investigation, vol. 1, no. 2.View/Download from: Publisher's site
A custom designed 96-plex GoldenGate® Genotyping single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assay was evaluated for performance with genomic samples (10-250ng template), whole genomic amplified (WGA) samples and environmentally challenged samples. The assay performed well with pristine genomic samples, reproducibly generating complete and accurate SNP profiles with lower (50ng) than the manufacturer's recommended amount of template (250ng).
Clinical and forensic samples often fall below the optimal concentration for direct SNP analysis. One proposed solution to this is to produce sufficient quantities of DNA prior to SNP typing by whole genome amplification (WGA). The results of this study show that WGA prior to SNP typing produced reliable results when the template was of high quality and quantity (≥10ng). However, SNP-typing of environmentally challenged skeletal samples produced poor results, both with and without WGA prior to SNP typing. The amplification bias inherent in the WGA process was significantly exaggerated with samples of low quality and quantity.
While these results suggest that SNP-typing using the Illumina GoldenGate® assay is not the solution for genotyping highly degraded samples, it can provide an alternative means for some forensic DNA typing needs, such as paternity testing or typing reference samples for databasing.
Barash, M, Reshef, A, Voskoboinik, L, Zamir, A, Motro, U & Gafny, R 2012, 'A search for obligatory paternal alleles in a DNA database to find an alleged rapist in a fatherless paternity case.', Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 1098-1101.View/Download from: Publisher's site
A sexual assault case resulted in a pregnancy, which was subsequently aborted. The alleged father of the fetus was unknown. Maternal and fetal types were obtained using the 11-locus AmpFℓSTR(®) SGM Plus(®) kit. The national DNA database was searched for the paternal obligatory alleles and detected two suspects who could not be excluded as father of the male fetus. Additional typing using the AmpFℓSTR(®) Minifiler(™) kit, containing three additional autosomal loci, was not sufficient to exclude either suspect. Subsequent typing using the PowerPlex(®) 16, containing four additional loci, and Y-Filer(™) kits resulted in excluding one suspect. Searching a database for paternal obligatory alleles can be fruitful, but is fraught with possible false positive results so that finding a match must be taken as only preliminary evidence.
Reshef, A, Barash, M, Voskoboinik, L, Brauner, P & Gafny, R 2011, 'STR typing of formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) aborted foetal tissue in criminal paternity cases', SCIENCE & JUSTICE, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 19-23.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Ret, MB 2011, 'Authentication of forensic DNA samples [Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. (2009)]', FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL-GENETICS, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 253-254.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Barash, M, Reshef, A & Brauner, P 2010, 'The Use of Adhesive Tape for Recovery of DNA from Crime Scene Items', JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 1058-1064.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mullen, DG, Borgmeier, EL, Desai, AM, van Dongen, MA, Barash, M, Cheng, X-M, Baker, JR & Holl, MMB 2010, 'Isolation and Characterization of Dendrimers with Precise Numbers of Functional Groups', CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL, vol. 16, no. 35, pp. 10675-10678.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Brauner, P, Barash, M, Reshef, A & Michael, A 2008, 'Extraction of DNA from 8-year-old acid phosphatase test papers in a gang rape case', Journal of Forensic Identification, vol. 58, no. 6, pp. 671-681.
In 1997, a woman reported being raped by two men. A positive result for the possible presence of semen by the acid phosphatase (AP) method was obtained on different areas of the woman's clothing. The filter papers used in those tests were retained. In 2005, the case was re-opened for investigation. Biological material eluted from the 8-year-old AP papers in this case contained intact sperm cells. Moreover, DNA, preferentially extracted from the AP papers, was demonstrated to be amplifiable by the AmpFISTR SGM Plus kit. The relevance of the profiling of AP papers to postconviction DNA testing is discussed.
Barash, M 2006, 'A modified method for purification of biological samples collected on FTA cards for STR analysis', Journal of Forensic Identification, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 222-231.
FTA cards are regarded as a method of choice for the preservation and storage of blood and saliva prior to genetic testing. In this study, we compared the recommended protocol of DNA purification and amplification from FTA cards to a method we developed in the laboratory. Our simplified method was tailored for amplification using the AmpFLSTR SGM Plus kit. The modified method proved to decrease artifacts in DNA profiles and was more time- and cost-effective than the manufacturer's protocol.
Reshef, A, Barash, M, Gallili, N, Michael, A & Brauner, P 2005, 'The use of acid phosphatase test papers for DNA profiling', SCIENCE & JUSTICE, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 97-102.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Eisenberg, I, Barash, M, Kahan, T & Mitrani-Rosenbaum, S 2002, 'Cloning and characterization of a human novel gene C9orf19 encoding a conserved putative protein with an SCP-like extracellular protein domain', GENE, vol. 293, no. 1-2, pp. 141-148.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Eisenberg, I, Avidan, N, Potikha, T, Hochner, H, Chen, M, Olender, T, Barash, M, Shemesh, M, Sadeh, M, Grabov-Nardini, G, Shmilevich, I, Friedmann, A, Karpati, G, Bradley, WG, Baumbach, L, Lancet, D, Ben Asher, E, Beckmann, JS, Argov, Z & Mitrani-Rosenbaum, S 2001, 'The UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase/N-acetylmannosamine kinase gene is mutated in recessive hereditary inclusion body myopathy', NATURE GENETICS, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 83-87.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Barash, M, Bayer, PE & van Daal, A, 'Candidate gene scan for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms involved in the determination of normal variability in human craniofacial morphology'.View/Download from: Publisher's site
AbstractDespite intensive research on genetics of the craniofacial morphology using animal models and human craniofacial syndromes, the genetic variation that underpins normal human facial appearance is still largely elusive. Recent development of novel digital methods for capturing the complexity of craniofacial morphology in conjunction with high-throughput genotyping methods, show great promise for unravelling the genetic basis of such a complex trait.As a part of our efforts on detecting genomic variants affecting normal craniofacial appearance, we have implemented a candidate gene approach by selecting 1,201 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 4,732 tag SNPs in over 170 candidate genes and intergenic regions. We used 3-dimentional (3D) facial scans and direct cranial measurements of 587 volunteers to calculate 104 craniofacial phenotypes. Following genotyping by massively parallel sequencing, genetic associations between 2,332 genetic markers and 104 craniofacial phenotypes were tested.An application of a Bonferroni–corrected genome–wide significance threshold produced significant associations between five craniofacial traits and six SNPs. Specifically, associations of nasal width with rs8035124 (15q26.1), cephalic index with rs16830498 (2q23.3), nasal index with rs37369 (5q13.2), transverse nasal prominence angle with rs59037879 (10p11.23) and rs10512572 (17q24.3), and principal component explaining 73.3% of all the craniofacial phenotypes, with rs37369 (5p13.2) and rs390345 (14q31.3) were observed.Due to over-conservative nature of the Bonferroni correction, we also report all the associations that reached the traditional genome-wide p-value threshold (<5.00E-08) as suggestive. Based on the genome-wide threshold, 8 craniofacial phenotypes demonstrated significant associations with 34 intergenic and extragenic SNPs. The majority of associations are novel, except
Garrett-Rickman, S, Gunn, P & Barash, M 2017, 'VALIDATION OF THE SUREID (R) COMPASS HUMAN DNA IDENTIFICATION KIT', FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, 21st Triennial Meeting of the International-Association-of-Forensic-Sciences (IAFS), ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD, Toronto, CANADA, pp. 70-70.
Eisenberg, I, Barash, M, Hochner, H, Kahan, T, Levi, T & Mitrani-Rosenbaum, S 2002, 'Cloning and characterization of two novel human transcripts at the 9p12 13 chromosomal region.', AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS, 52nd Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Human-Genetics, UNIV CHICAGO PRESS, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, pp. 322-322.
Australian Federal Police
Australian Defence Forces
University of Canberra