Development of next generation DNA technologies for identification of fallen Australian Service Members

Project supported by: Defence Innovation Hub


There are ~30,000 Australian service members unaccounted for from previous conflicts including World War I and World War II. Identification of recovered remains requires a comprehensive collaboration of scientific expertise, historical records, volunteers, family descendants and DNA analyses. However, many are not identified due to a lack of appropriate genomic tools for remains that are almost 100 years old.

This project, funded by a Department of Defence Innovation Hub contract and led by Distinguished Professor Lyn Griffiths, will assist Unrecovered War Casualties – Army (UWC-A) investigations through:


  • Establishing a Family Reference DNA Database for Australian Defence designed to aid in identifying recovered historical military remains;
  • Developing new genomic methods to extract DNA profiles from highly degraded remains to support investigations for identification of Unrecovered War Casualties across the Australian Defence Force; and
  • Developing analysis techniques to infer biogeographical ancestry and externally visible characteristics in highly degraded recovered remains.