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At 5pm on Friday 14 November 2014, Koen Vanmechelen was in conversation with the curators & Em. Prof. Jean-Jacques Cassiman (KU Leuven, Centre for Human Genetics) at St Pancras Church.

 

Jean-Jacques Cassiman, Belgian researcher and professor of human genetics (Centre for Human Genetics, KU Leuven), has done groundbreaking work in the field of human genetics and DNA research. In 1998 he received the Francqui chair at the Universite Catholique de Louvain and in 2002 he earned a Ph.D. to Doctor Honoris Causa at the Iuliu Haţieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

 

In 1998 Professor Cassiman proved through DNA testing that Karl Wilhelm Naundorff was not a descendant of the Bourbons and certainly not Louis XVII. In 2004 he proved that the heart that had been kept in Paris belonged to Louis XVII.

He was commissioned in 2004 by the French authorities to use DNA testing to detect if the mortal remains of Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris buried there are indeed those of Napoleon.

 

Since 2009, Cassiman has been collaborating with Koen Vanmechelen on an artistic, genetic project entitled the Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project (CC®P). The objective of their collaboration is to investigate the genetics of the chicken.

 

The unique  CCP set-up provides scientists with an interesting model to investigate the genetic diversity between breeds and makes it possible to assess the consequences of crossbreeding.  Genetic diversity is essential, proves the Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project; which sparks interesting debate material for the conversation during Darwin’s Dream.

 

 

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