Monday, 14 May 2007

Forensic pathologists old and new

Autobiographies of forensic pathologists give an insight into the recent history of forensic pathology, and how the 'craft' has been practiced over the years.

Sir Bernard Spilsbury has often been thought of as the 'father' of modern forensic medicine, and a recent book by Colin Evans, 'The father of forensics: The groundbreaking cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury and the beginnings of modern CSI', provides an interesting overview of forensic pathology at the turn of the 20th Century.

Professor Keith Simpson, of Guy's Hospital, London is another 'household name' in the field, and his book, 'Forty Years of Murder' illustrates the investigation of suspicious death in the 'war years' in England, and makes for fascinating reading.

The National Clearing House for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University College of Law, USA, has several webcasts and audio files of 'modern' forensic pathologists talking about their careers and provides insight into the practice of forensic pathology in more recent times. Dr Michael Baden provides a 'complete history of murder and science in one hour', whilst Dr Cyril Wecht runs through a 'forensic medicine odyssey'.

A recent edition of the Student BMJ contains an interview with Dr Rob Chapman, a forensic pathologist in the UK, describing his work, and the BBC series 'Horizon' aired a programme 'How to commit the perfect murder', containing interviews with Dr Richard Shephard, another UK forensic pathologist.

An excellent web resource, the 'Visible Proofs' exhibition website, contains further interviews with forensic pathologists (and others) on their work, including video clips of the autopsy.