AAFS 2015 International Educational Outreach Program

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CroatiaBuildingsProgram Destination: Republic of Croatia
June 14–21, 2015

Croatia!  A land whose rich cultural heritage is not discovered only from within the walls of numerous museums, galleries, and churches many of which today, as zero category monuments, are included in a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, but much more in that magical place on the Mediterranean.  Croatia, where even the shortest stroll becomes a journey down a staircase thousands of years old which takes one through a history that is at the same time turbulent, exciting, and glorious.  Whether walking the intricate grid of narrow white stone streets and alleys, or reveling in the teeming life of the port towns of Istria, Kvarner, or Dalmatia, or climbing the green serpentines of Central Croatia to the fairy-like fortresses and castles, each step is an ever fresh experience, made special by the fact that on her territory as many as four cultural circles meet, intertwine, and complement one another – west, east, Central European and the southern spirit of the Mediterranean.  Croatia is a land of urban culture that numbers more cities than any other part of the Mediterranean.

CroatiaMapIt is one of the best ecologically preserved parts of Europe. It is a land where the hues of the sunny and warm Mediterranean happily blend with the tranquility and freshness of mountains and the gentle sway of the golden plains of Pannonia. A land of truly divine inspiration that has delighted many of the world’s prominent men of letters. A rare European landscape which boasts as many as eight national parks in so small an area!

Croatia occupies the largest part of the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea which, as a part of the Mediterranean Sea, penetrates deepest into European soil.  Croatia’s shoreline and more than thousand of islands enjoy the majority of the Adriatic coastline.  The narrow Dinara Mountain Range separates the country’s Mediterranean region from its central European continental part, which spans from the easterly edges of the Alps in the Northwest to the shores of  the Danube in the East, encompassing the southern part of the fertile Pannonian lowlands.


June 14 Zagreb Arrival

Travelers will arrive in Zagreb’s International Airport (http://www.zagreb-airport.hr/) and make their way to Hotel Esplanade (http://hotel.esplanade.hr/).  The tour will officially begin the following morning.  Zagreb is the capitol and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia, very rich in history dating from the Romans to the present day.  The remainder of the day is free for leisure and exploration.

June 15 – Zagreb

Lab1Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart by bus for our first stop of the day – the Forensic Science Centre Ivan Vucetic (http://www.forenzika.hr/DefaultCKV.aspx)Our host, Dr. Gordan Mrsic, Professor and Director of the Forensic Science Centre, will greet us.  Founded in 1952 and named for Ivan Vucetic who, in 1981, began the first filing of fingerprints.  As a result of his work, in 1982, Vucetic made the first positive identification in a criminal case in which a mother had killed her two children and cut her own throat to divert blame.  A bloody print identified her as the killer.  Today, the center is a full member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutions (ENFSI).  Much like the AAFS, the ENFSI’s mission is to share knowledge, exchange experiences and come to mutual agreements in the field of forensic science.  ENFSI is recognized as an expert group in the field of forensic sciences.

Our next stop will be the University of Zagreb, School of Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine, Croatia (http://www.mef.unizg.hr/eng/).  We will meet with Professor Damir Boras, Rector of University of Zagreb and his colleaguesThe University of Zagreb (1669) is the oldest and biggest university in South-Eastern Europe.  As a comprehensive public Central European university, the University of Zagreb offers education and research in all scientific fields (arts, biomedicine, biotechnology, engineering, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences) and a broad spectrum of courses at all study levels, from undergraduate to postgraduate. With 29 Faculties, 3 Art Academies, and the University Centre for Croatian Studies, it is the flagship educational institution in the country and the place where more than 7,900 teachers and 72,480 students develop knowledge and acquire skills.  The Department of Forensic Medicine at the Zagreb Medical School is Croatian’s oldest forensic medicine department in Southeast Europe.  It has a long tradition in education as well as high quality research covering a wide range of aspects of forensic medicine and science with a forensic pathology service provision to the North Croatia, Zagreb and other national organizations.  Our host at the University will be Professor Milovan Kubat, Forensic Science Department Head.

CroatiaLabTechFollowing lunch, we will then meet with Professor Vedran Mornar, Minister of Science, Education, and Sports of the Republic of Croatia.  The Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of Croatia is the ministry in the Government of Croatia which is in charge of primary, secondary, and tertiary education, research institutions and sports.  The ministry in its current form came into existence in 2003 resulting from the merger of the earlier Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education and Sports.

Visiting the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts (http://info.hazu.hr/), we will meet with Professors Zvonko Kusic, M.D., Ph.D., President of the Academy and Professor Pavle Rudan, M.D., Ph.D., Secretary General of the Academy.  Founded in 1861, its goal is to promote and unite the highest scientific, cultural, and artistic achievements.

2LabTechs copyThe final stop of the day will be to Genos Ltd. (http://genos.hr/en/about-us/genos-company/) where our hosts, Professor Gordan Lauc, Ph.D. and Professor Dragan Primorac, M.D., Ph.D., will greet us.  Genos Ltd is a research-intensive SME located in Zagreb.  It performs contract research, contract analysis and service for numerous universities, hospitals, and private individuals in Europe and overseas.  Founded in 2007 by University of Zagreb molecular biologist Gordan Lauc, the top-ranked company has stayed close to its academic roots, with many employees doing their Ph.D. research at the company.  In 2013, The Scientist magazine named Genos one of the best places to work in Industry.

June 16 – Zagreb-Plitvice Lakes

Be prepared for an early start and an 8:00 AM bus ride to St. Catherine’s Hospital (http://www.svkatarina.com).  A member of the prestigious group “The Leading Hospitals of The World,” St. Catherine’s Hospital is a European center of excellence for advanced imaging, orthopedics, spine surgery treatment of pain (pain management), and sports medicine with the most advanced diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation infrastructure.  St. Catherine’s is teaching hospital of Split and Osijek Medical Schools and an official hospital of the Croatian Football Federation.  Some of the world’s best athletes, including U.S. Open 2014 winner Marin Cilic, have been treated in this hospital.  Most of the hospital physicians are forensic expert witnesses in the fields of orthopedics, neurosurgery, neurology, and spine surgery.  Our host will be Dr. Igor Boric, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Hospital Director.Painting

LabPictureA short bus ride will find us in Krapina with a visit to the Krapina Neanderthal Museum (http://www.mkn.mhz.hr/en/).  It is the first paleontological natural monument in Croatia and is one of the most significant paleoanthropological localities worldwide.  Its exceptional abundance of findings and a discovery of the largest habitat of Neanderthal prehistoric people make it an unparalleled source of contemporary scientific information even today.  Forensic science and computer simulations are just two of the high tech tools used to explain one branch of the evolutionary tree.  The Osteological collection has more than 5,000 skeletons from over 40 archaeological sites in Croatia dating from the Prehistoric to Modern times.  Our host at the Museum will be Professor Mario Slaus, M.D., Ph.D.

Waterfall2Waterfall1After leaving the Museum, we’ll travel by bus to Plitvice Lakes National Park located in the mountainous Karst area of central Croatia.  Founded in 1948, this is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia.  The protected area extends beyond 73,300 acres and is home to the important north-south road connection from the Croatian inland to the Adriatic coastal region.  Plitvice Lakes National Park contains a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls.  These have been formed by processes typical of karst landscapes such as the deposition of travertine barriers, creating natural dams.  These geological processes continue today.  The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey, or blue.  The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.   The national park area is home to many endemic species.  Those species that prevailed at the lakes before the arrival of man still exist.

June 17 Zadar

TelsaFollowing breakfast, we’ll depart for Zadar.  On the way, we’ll stop in Smiljan, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla and home to the Nikola Tesla Birthplace Museum & Memorial Center.  Opened in July of 2006, the birthplace home of Nikola Tesla was renovated, restored, and turned into an interactive museum about the prolific inventor.  His birthplace home has been carefully restored and made into a museum that shows off various models of his inventions such as the Tesla Coils, an AC induction motor, a working Egg of Columbus — used by Tesla during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago to demonstrate the alternating current magnetic field — as well as several exhibits, and a small research library.  A replica shed was carefully reconstructed to replace a shed that existed during Tesla’s childhood.  It is reported that he jumped off the top holding an umbrella, hoping to experience flight.  He only experienced gravity.

ChurchBefore we begin the half-day tour of Zadar, we’ll settle in at the hotel.  For centuries Zadar was the capital city of Dalmatia and today the center of the region.  It is a city with a rich heritage of world importance, visible at every step: the Roman Forum from the 1st century; St. Donatus’ Church from the 9th century is the most famous medieval basilica and trademark of the city; the reconstructed Romanesque St. Grisigono’s Church from the 12th century; and the St. Mary’s bell tower from the year 1105; the St. Anastasia’s Cathedral from the 13th century; the People’s Square with the City’s Lodge and Guardhouse from the 16th century, the mighty fortification walls with first class Seafarer’s and Land gates from the 16th century  the Three and Five Wells Squares; and the many palaces, villas and other historic monuments.  The morning may also include a visit to Professor Ante Uglesic, Rector of the University of Zadar and his colleagues as well as the permanent exhibit of The Gold and Silver of Zadar or the Museum of Ancient Glass Zadar.

June 18 – Zadar-Sibenik

IslandsThis will be a full day boat excursion to the Kornati National Park.  In the central part of the Croatian Adriatic, near where the Sibenik and Zadar islands meet, is a distinctive and special group of islands called Kornati.  The Kornati National Park covers the bigger part of the Kornati waters.  Because of their exceptional landscape beauty, interesting geomorphology, and highly jagged and indented coast as well as rich communities of the submarine eco-system, the islands were made a national park in 1980.

Our boat will bring us to one of the largest islands where we will disembark and take a walk through the picturesque surroundings and enjoy a typical Dalmatian lunch near the waters of the Adriatic Sea.

June 19 – Sibenik-Split

June19thBuildingsSibenik lies almost in the middle of the Croatian Adriatic Coast in the picturesque and indented bay around the mouth of the river Krka, one of the most beautiful Karst rivers in Croatia.  Today, Sibenik is the administrative, political, economic, social and, cultural center of a county which stretches along the 62-mile long belt between the Zadar and Split Riviera, reaching up to 30 miles deep into the hinterland.

St. Jacobs Cathedral in Sibenik is a unique monument of sacral architecture, added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sights in the year 2000.  The cathedral was built on the south side of the cities old central square.  The idea of building a cathedral dates back to 1298 when Sibenik gained its own diocese and the status of a city.

SeaSideAfter lunch we’ll move on to the historic harbor town of Trogir.  A remarkable example of urban continuity, the orthogonal street plan of this island settlement dates back to the Hellenistic period and successive rulers with many fine public and domestic buildings and fortifications embellished it.  The outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period complement its beautiful Romanesque churches.

 June 20 – Split

MoreBuildingsOur first stop today will find us meeting with the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County, Zlatko Zevrnja, and the Mayor of Split, Ivo Baldasar.  Split-Dalmatia County is the central-southern Dalmatian county in Croatia. The name Dalmatia comes from an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae who inhabited the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in the 1st millennium BC.  The administrative center is Split, the second largest city of Croatia (the largest is Dalmatia).

ForensicScienceCenterOn to the University of Split Center for Forensic Science and greeted by our host, Professor Dragan Primorac.  Our visit will also include a meeting with Professor Simun Andelinovic, Rector of the University of Split.  The university was officially established in June of 1974.  As the premiere scientific and teaching public institution in the region, the university boasts a student population of about 24,000.  Dr. Primorac and Professor Andelinovic are co-founders of the Split University Center of Forensic Sciences where they launched the first master’s degree programs in forensic genetics in this part of Europe.

Our next stop will find us visiting the Clinical Hospital Split, Department of Forensic Sciences.  Since 1993 forensic scientists from this Department have been involved in identification of human remains found in mass graves in Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In 1996, Professor Primorac and his team from the Department of Forensic Sciences, published one of the first scientific articles ever on mass grave victims identification by DNA technology (Primorac D., Andelinovic S., Definis-Gojanovic M., Drmic I., Rezic B., Baden M.M., Kennedy M.A., Skakel S.B., Lee H.C.).  Identification of war victims from mass graves in Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina through the use of DNA typing and standard forensic methods (J Forensic Sci 1996;41:891-894.).  The New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Hartford Courant, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Science Magazine, and NBC Connecticut have reported several stories on the identification of war victims from this Department.Bones

Before leaving the hospital, we will make one last stop to the Ossuary at the Department of Forensic Sciences.  The Department is responsible for more than 3,000 bone samples, including those from the Neolithic period.

After lunch, the group will enjoy a relaxing tour of Split.  Split is the economic and administrative center of Middle Dalmatia, with about 200,000 inhabitants.  It is also the jumping-off point for exploration of the coast and islands of the beautiful Croatian Adriatic.  The site was first settled when, at the end of the third century AD, the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his palace on the bay of Aspalathos.  In November 1979 UNESCO, in line with the international convention concerning the cultural and natural heritage, adopted a proposal that the historic Split inner city, built around the Palace, should be included in the register of the World Cultural Heritage.

CroatiaOverlookWe will wrap up the days events with a return visit to the University of Split, Department of Forensic Science by sharing coffee with the students at the Diocletian Palace.  Today, the palace forms the center of the city of Split. While it is referred to as a “palace” because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Emperor Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.Palace

June 21, 2015

Those traveling solely for the IEOP will depart for home from the Split Airport (also known as Resnik Airport) exhausted and satisfied.  Your second option will be to stay and attend the 9th ISABS Conference on Forensic and Anthropologic Genetics and Mayo Clinic Lectures in Individualized Medicine, June 22-26, 2015, on the Island of Brac, Republic of Croatia.  If planning on staying for the conference complete details can be found at this site: http://www.isabs.hr.

IEOP Land Tour Price – June 14-21, 2015

The program price is $1,985 pp/double; $2,585 pp/single USD.  The tour price includes:

  • Hotel accommodations;
  • Daily breakfast at hotel;
  • Daily lunch;
  • Daily dinner;
  • Admission fees to all sightseeing locations;
  • Private air-conditioned first class coach;
  • English-speaking tour leader; and,
  • Basic tips for drivers and guides.

For planning purposes, dining at a good local restaurant will average $18-$40 U.S. for dinner.

OPTIONAL:  June 22-26 – ISABS Conference / Island of Brac / Republic of Croatia

Attendees participating in the ISABS conference will depart by catamaran to the Island of Brac.

Our local host and President of the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS 2015) Professor Dragan Primorac invites you to join him for the 9th ISABS Conference on Forensic and Anthropologic Genetics and Mayo Clinic Lectures in Individualized Medicine, Bol, Island of Brač, Croatia, June 22−26, 2015. This is an ideal platform for exchanging and sharing ideas and latest information in the forensic science field with more than 500 participants from all continents. Topics will include Forensic Genetics, Genetic Anthropology, and Molecular Medicine from faculty from around the world.

OceanThe conference is next in the series of biennial events organized by the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS), a society dedicated to the promotion of applied molecular biology (http://www.isabs.hr). ISABS Scientific Board consisting of world-leading scientists including four Nobel Laureates.

Expected attendance is more than 500 persons from related institutes and industries. The conference is structured to allow close interaction of the international faculty and attendees. Together with formal presentations, there will be meet-the-professor sessions and other social occasions meant to enhance opportunities for scientific intercourse, but also to introduce the participants to the town of Bol, one of the best known tourist destinations in Croatia due to its unspoiled nature, beautiful beaches, cultural and historical attractions. Since 1997, ISABS has held eight topical international conferences with more than 3,000 participants from 65 countries featuring the premier forensic and other biomedical scientists, including Nobel Laureates. Since 2003, meetings were organized in collaboration with Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota, USA). Along the organization of scientific meetings, during the past years the Society has become a rich source of prominent young scientist that are continually giving a huge contribution to the promotion and advancement in the various fields of applied biomedical sciences.


Download an application here: Croatia Application