R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Saúde

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Ciências Forenses [HESC-Centro-Coimbra-4081] visitada em 07/04/2008

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This Unit, formed recently by the fusion of three groups is in a unique position. It commands a body of work that is unparalleled in the sense of its centralisation and the nature of the law in Portugal which enables it to establish a body of data from samples not really obtained elsewhere. The advent of a central genetic data-base will strengthen this position.

In general the RU as a whole is very well equipped and it assembles a comprehensive set of technologies useful in different aspects of forensic sciences. The panel noted that the RU should make a clearer choice of research topics, indicating those that should have a high priority. In this regard areas that the RU singled out as areas of election form a good basis and should be further specified and pursued. This include sudden cardiac death in young people, distinction between vital and post mortem wounds, alcohol/drugs and traffic deaths. In these areas the members of the RU have published a good deal in Portuguese and Spanish together with a number of publications in English with peer review. It is important to actively promote the need to write reports suitable for high impact journals in specific fields where peer review is used.
Training at the graduation level
There are a considerable number of PhD students with diverse first degrees and backgrounds. The unit provides a comprehensive programme of courses that are relevant to the multidisciplinary field of forensic sciences in general and forensic medicine in particular. There are few MD/PhD which is a weakness. The RU should be encouraged to stimulate the appointment of MDs at the post-doctoral level.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Antropologia Forense [RG-HESC-Centro-Coimbra-4081-331]
The relationship of this group to the Unit is different from the others, since it is essentially a University department which is consulted by the Unit. This is sensible and the group is clearly competent and keen to standardise methodology. They have developed an international commitment which is important and significant. More should be made of this in funding terms – there is an opportunity to apply for support from agencies outside Portugal (e.g., International Agencies, UN) and to present these activities to a broad public with a strong public relations effort (Human Rights Mission). The group has a number of good publications in international peer-reviewed journals that are important journals in the field of forensic sciences and related fields; although with relatively low impact factors the group has produced a considerable number of PhD and MSc theses.
Clínica Forense [RG-HESC-Centro-Coimbra-4081-330]
The work of this group is focussed mainly on victimisation and the interaction between aggressor and victim – the emphasis being placed on how to “rebuild” the victim in terms of the injuries that had occurred and how these injuries should be evaluated. No concise description of a research programme was given but it appears that thought had been given to this. It needs formalisation. The publications selected are not very recent, and appeared in journals of low impact.
Genética Forense [RG-HESC-Centro-Coimbra-4081-335]
There is obvious technical and scientific expertise and competence but a clear lack of focus – too many ambitious projects were described. Prioritisation in a formal framework is necessary or effort will be too widely disseminated. The group has published regularly in international journals of moderate impact although relevant for the scientific field. One PhD thesis was completed as well as a small number of MSc theses.
Patologia Forense [RG-HESC-Centro-Coimbra-4081-332]
Forensic Pathology is well focussed and is investigating problems where the expertise in the Unit will allow good progress to be made. There is evidence of focus and application and an understanding of areas in which they are competitive internationally. The group publishes in specialized journals of the field of forensic sciences and also in more general international journals of relatively higher impact.
Psiquiatria Forense [RG-HESC-Centro-Coimbra-4081-334]
This is a “new” group in terms of the whole Unit. It appears that there is a large burden of routine work that has prevented analysis of the information obtained from clinical studies due to constraints of time. If use is to be made of the data collected additional personnel will be needed; in any case a concise proposal should be made. Strong links between this group and group Clinical forensic medicine are proposed and would be necessary for effective working. The group is still in an early phase of development and has a very limited number of publications and no PhD theses, although 3 MSc theses were completed in the last 3 years. Therefore it is premature to give to this group a definite evaluation score. At the moment the level of the group is fair but has the potential of getting higher if the group explores efficiently collaborations with other groups within the Unit and invests sufficient time in research activities.