Forensic Technology Center of Excellence

Pathology & Medicolegal Death Investigation

The medicolegal death investigation (MDI) system, which includes Medical Examiner and Coroner (MEC) offices, serves a fundamental role for supporting public safety by conducting death scene investigations, performing forensic autopsies, providing cause and manner of death determinations, and completing death certificates. The FTCoE supports the MDI system through hosting events and webinars; supporting practitioners, publications, and podcast episodes; and collaborating with professional organizations, such as the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (IACME).

Explore our latest medicolegal death investigation resources: Watch webinars on post-mortem interval, read the 2018 MDI Stakeholder's Report, watch the 2018 IAC&ME Symposium Archival Webinars to earn ABMDI credits, and listen to the Just Science podcast's MDI Season.

View all Pathology and MDI resources below.

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Just Blowflies and Extreme Temperatures

In episode five of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Travis Rusch, a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M University, about fluctuating temperatures in forensically important blowflies. Forensic entomologists use predictable developmental rates of certain necrophagus insects to estimate time of colonization, postmortem interval, and time of…
microphone and headphones

Just Skeletal Remains Identification

In episode two of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Heather Garvin, Associate Professor of Anatomy at Des Moines University, about her work with OSTEOID, an online resource for species identification of skeletal remains.  Approximately 30-40% of cases involving skeletal remains received by forensic anthropologists end up being…

2019 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…
scientist measuring bruises under blue and green lights

Detection and Visibility of Bruises Using Alternate Light: From Science to Practice

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) Bruising is one of the most common types of soft tissue injury noted on victims of violence, including those suffering intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child…
five scientists having a discussion behind glass

Handling Difficult and Disturbing Forensic Cases for Coroners and Medical Examiners

← Back to Series  Thursday, October 17th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) There are over 2000 medical examiner and coroner offices throughout the United States. All are involved in determining the cause and manner…

Special Release: Just the Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners

<<< back to all podcasts Just the Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners In this special release episode, Just Science interviews Dr. Hope Smiley-McDonald and Connor Brooks about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners. The…
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The Opioid Epidemic: An Update from the Coroner/ME Perspective

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 Duration: 50 minutes Between 2016 and 2017, overdose deaths increased from 63,632 to 70,237. Of these, 47,600 overdose deaths involved opioids. In 2017, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and the District of Columbia were the top…
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Medicolegal Death Investigation: Locating and Notifying Next of Kin & Donation 101

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 Duration: 1.75 hour(s) Locating and notifying the next of kin is an important part of medicolegal death investigation. This presentation provided examples of resources at the scene and online to assist medicolegal death investigators (MDIs) with…
old hand holding young hand

Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims

Overview: The original recordings took place March 21-23, 2017. In 2017, the National Institute of Justice, Charleston Southern University, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, and the Shaken Baby Alliance worked together to create and host “From Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims.” This…

Online Workshop Series: Probabilistic Genotyping Of Evidentiary DNA Typing Results

Overview The Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory has partnered with the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence to create a series of online workshops aimed at increasing knowledge, understanding, and the reliable application of probabilistic genotyping to…

Identification: Just Forensic Microanthropology

<<< back to all podcasts Just Forensic Microanthropology In episode seven of the Identification season, Just Science interviews Carlos Gutierrez, a lecturer at Chaminade University of Honolulu, about the new field of Forensic Microanthropology. After finding an unidentified bone, forensic…

Building Forensic Capacity Post-Conflict: Lessons from Uganda

← Back to Series  Thursday, March 28, 2019 2:00:00 PM ET – 3:30:00 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) This presentation introduces research conducted in Uganda at the nexus of forensic science and transitional justice, highlighting a large-scale forensic investigation and…

Variability in Blow-Fly Development – Research and Implications for PMI Practice

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 2:00 PM ET – 4:00 PM ET Duration: 2 hour(s) Dr. Leon Higley’s work to characterize blow-fly species indicates that there is variation within a single population–the bell curve is wide. Dr. Higley will share his…

Advancing Research Initiatives and Combatting the Human Trafficking Epidemic

Thursday, November 1, 2018 1:00 PM ET – 2:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) Trafficking in persons is a multi-faceted global epidemic which has seen a significant increase in public awareness. However, there is a substantial need to expand capacities…

Estimating Blow Fly Age and Reducing Error in Postmortem Interval Cases

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 2:00:00 PM ET – 4:00:00 PM ET Duration: 2 hour(s) Insect evidence can provide valuable information during death investigations. Forensic entomologists estimate the ages of the immature insects like blow flies, which can provide useful information…

Strengthening the Medical Examiner–Coroner System Through NIJ-funded Programs: 2018 Medicolegal Death Investigation Stakeholders’ Meeting

Report Date September 2018 Report Summary On February 5–6, 2018, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and evaluation agency of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), convened a diverse group of stakeholders from across the United States…

Forensic Workforce Resiliency: Vicarious Trauma & Workplace Stress Webinar Series

Description Professionals throughout the criminal justice system are exposed to the aftermath of violent crime and its victims. These individuals may include forensic nurses, crime scene investigators, forensic practitioners, medicolegal death investigators, and other professionals in related fields. Research has…

3D-ID-Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists Software Best Practices

Thursday, August 16, 2018 1:00 PM ET – 2:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) Attendees will be introduced to the new features of the new software release, how to maximize results, and how to best interpret results for forensic casework…

Three Part Online Workshop Series: Best Practices Guidance for Advancing Research Initiatives and Combatting the Synthetic Drug Epidemic

Archives   Overview The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) is a world-leading center in novel drug identification and interpretation. The CFSRE is working in association with NIJ’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), led by RTI International,…

Conference Proceedings: 2018 Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Success Story: Maximizing the Use of Mitochondrial DNA in Identifying Remains and Aiding Missing Persons Casework

NIJ and the American Registry of Pathology Report Date April 2018 Impact “The complete mtGenome reference data developed in this project serve as important milestones for the understanding of coding region heteroplasmy and the acceptance of full mtGenome sequencing in…

Success Story: Establishing a “Microbial Clock” to Improve Time of Death Prediction

NIJ and Multi-Institute Academic Team Report Date April 2018 Impact “This research clearly demonstrated that there is potential to develop microbiome tools for estimating time of death. Developing connections with the right interdisciplinary collaborators was instrumental to the success of…

Just Dry Bones

Just Dry Bones In the seventh episode of Just Science, funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence , guest speakers Dr. Melissa Connor, Dr. Eriek Hansen, and Christiane Baigent discuss their NIJ funded research. A study was launched in…

2016 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

HHRRC Webinar Series: Stable Isotope Forensics & Unknown Persons Investigations

← Back to Series  Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 1:00:00 PM ET – 3:00:00 PM ET This webinar discussed applications of stable isotope analysis for predicting region of origin of unidentified border crossers found within the United States. Participants will understand…

HHRRC Webinar Series: Analysis and Conservation of Human Remains in Cambodia

← Back to Series  Original Webinar took Place on Tuesday, May 16th, 2020 This presentation provides an introduction to the work conducted in Cambodia to analyze/preserve human remains from violence committed by the Khmer Rouge. Specifically the site of Krang…

2013 R&D: Straight to the Bone: Advances in Forensic Anthropology

This archival portion of the 2013 R&D Seminar Series covers the following presentations: • Improving Sex Estimation from Crania using 3-Dimensional CT Scans – Natalie Shirley • Independent Validation Test of Microscopic Saw Mark Analysis – Jennifer Love • A Subadult…

2013 R&D: Postmortem Interval and Molecular Autopsy – Part II [Archival]

This archival portion of the 2013 R&D Seminar Series covers the following presentations: Applications of Curvilinear Development Modeling for the Blow Fly Lucilia Sericota – Leon Higley Investigating Unexplained Deaths through Molecular Autopsies – Yingying Tang Funding for this Forensic…

2013 R&D: Postmortem Interval and Molecular Autopsy – Part I [Archival]

This archival portion of the 2013 R&D Seminar Series covers the following presentations: Microbial Community Change Associated with Decomposing Corpses – Rob Knight Using Differential RNA Degradation to Estimate an Extended Postmortem Interval – Joshua Moore Funding for this Forensic…

2017 NIJ R&D Series Anthropology & Microbial Forensics

Archival Version – The NIJ Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium was a free and open meeting where attendees learned about NIJ-funded research across a variety of forensic science areas. Afternoon Session I – Anthropology & Microbial Forensics Speakers & Presentations…