Mortui vivos docent – How Post-Mortem Examinations Save Lives


In Germany, deceased persons must be externally examined before they can be buried or cremated. A physician determines the manner – natural or non-natural – and cause of death. The outcome of this examination determines whether an internal autopsy is to be additionally performed. In cases of homicide, the benefit to the living of clarifying the cause and circumstances of death is obvious: It is a matter of public safety, of faith in the state under the rule of law, and not least of a sense of justice. Meticulously conducted post-mortem examinations can even save lives: Accident frequencies can be determined, for example, and their causes eliminated. In cases of natural death, internal autopsies can shed light on the course of a disease. An important role is also played by cases in which an autopsy cannot determine the cause of death even once all diagnostic methods are exhausted, for example in cases of sudden infant death syndrome. Through systematic evaluations, forensic medicine has been able to identify risk factors here; this has already saved countless lives. Marcel A. Verhoff will use specific examples to explain the significance of forensic medicine and show perspectives opened up by molecular autopsy, in particular, as a further diagnostic option.

Prof. Dr. Marcel A. Verhoff has held the Chair of Forensic Medicine at Goethe University Frankfurt since 2013; he is also Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University Hospital. Scientifically, he is involved in the identification of perpetrators by means of forensic DNA analysis, determination of post-mortem intervals, and evaluation of bony structures.

Dialog in the Museum
October 6, 2022
Mercedes-Benz Museum
70372 Stuttgart

Prof. Dr. Marcel A. Verhoff
Goethe University Frankfurt

Via the link you can follow the lecture and ask the speaker questions. Due to space limitations, participation in the event on location is by personal invitation only.