Dr Laura Heathfield

Lecturer- Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

In 2014, Dr Heathfield took up the post of convenor for the forensic genetics course within the Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. While in this position, Laura has furthered her education by obtaining a diploma in Postgraduate Health and Professional Education and has most recently completed her PhD. Her doctoral research, which investigated genetic factors which contribute to sudden and unexpected death in infants, combined her lifelong passion for forensics and human genetics. To date, Laura has published 14 peer-reviewed journal articles and has supervised 10 honours and 19 master students, all of whom have since graduated.

Laura maintains a close collaboration with Forensic Pathology Services (Department of Health, Western Cape) and has significantly contributed towards to the creation and development of the forensic genetics’ laboratory within the new Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute. Part of this initiative has involved the procurement of specialist equipment for genetic analyses, including the MiSeq FGx instrument which is the first platform of its kind in Africa. This next generation sequencing instrument is validated for forensic analysis and its use in casework is anticipated to assist in the identification of severely degraded human remains.