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.

2021 National Forensic Science Week FTCoE Student Research Poster Session

Overview  As fall semesters are getting back into session and in honor of the upcoming National Forensic Science Week (September 19-25, 2021), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) would like to highlight student research in the forensic sciences! The…

Lessons Learned from Project ECHO: Overdose Fatality Investigation Techniques

Thursday, October 7th, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:00 PM ETDuration: 1 hour State and territorial public health agencies rely on timely and accurate overdose mortality data to drive effective prevention initiatives. As the number of overdose deaths in the United…

Criminal Justice and Public Health Response for Emerging Drug Threats

Overview In a joint effort with the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP), FTCoE develops capabilities that meet the needs of forensic science organizations to improve collaborations across the criminal justice and public…
FADAMA logo with skull

Introduction to the Forensic Anthropology Database for Assessing Methods Accuracy

This webinar originally occurred on August 31st, 2021 Duration: 1 hour Data availability is the cornerstone of progression of any scientific inquiry. For forensic anthropologists, the data sources are limited, as they must be contextually appropriate (temporal, geographical, etc.) for…
type writer with stack of papers

Multiple Perspectives on Overdose Fatality Reviews

This webinar originally occurred on July 27th, 2021Duration: 1 hour This webinar provided an overview of overdose fatality reviews (OFRs) with a specific focus on engaging partnerships with coroners, medical examiners, and medicolegal death investigators.  The presenters highlighted OFRs that…
hand touching hexagons

Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation

Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation The National Institute of Justice and its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence convene the Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation in collaboration with and supported by the Centers…
microphone and headphones

Just Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology Portfolio

In episode three of our 2021 NIJ R&D and Beyond mini season, Just Science sat down with Danielle McLeod-Henning, a physical scientist and program manager in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at NIJ, to discuss Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology.   Danielle McLeod-Henning has been the physical scientist in charge of the forensic…
three xray scans

Post-Mortem Computed Tomography Webinar Series

Overview Post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) is a valuable tool for medicolegal death investigation.  PMCT examination may be used to supplement traditional autopsy or anthropological examinations. Further, PMCT combined with external examination may be used as an alternative to full autopsy…
microphone and headphones

Just the DEA National Forensic Laboratory Information System

In episode eight, Just Science interviews DeMia Pressley from the DEA’s Diversion Control Division to discuss the importance of information sharing across law enforcement and public health agencies through forensic partnerships.  The National Forensic Laboratory Information System, otherwise known as NFLIS, is a…
microphone and headphones

Just Alternative Crisis Response: One Community’s Experience

In episode six, Just Science interviews Tim Black of the White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon about the CAHOOTS program, a community-based public safety model that provides mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and substance use…
microphone and headphones

Just Partnerships To Enhance Overdose Fatality Review

In episode five, Just Science interviews Dr. Mallory O’Brien, Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, to discuss how partnerships can enhance Overdose Fatality Reviews.  The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) is the only state-based reporting system that covers all types…
microphone and headphones

Just The Importance of Identifying Emerging Drug Threats

In episode three, Just Science sat down with Amanda Mohr and Dr. Alex Krotulski from the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education to discuss the analytical and interpretative challenges associated with emerging drug threats.  The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education, otherwise known as…
microphone and headphones

Just the Intersection of Opioids and Illicit Stimulants: Part 2

This week, we continue the conversation with Dr. Zibbell as he discusses the American history of drug epidemics, what we can learn from past stimulant crises, and the importance of tailoring interventions in this episode of Just Science.  This season is in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice…
Person holding vile

The National Institute of Justice and the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence’s National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum

Report Date July 2020 Introduction The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted the National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum on July 18-19, 2019, in Washington, DC. The forum explored…
microphone and headphones

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…
a field of red flowers

Forensic Epidemiology: Monitoring Fatal Drug Overdose Trends

This webinar originally occurred on February 11th, 2020Duration: 1 hour Given the vital role of medical examiners and coroners (ME/C) in recognizing emerging trends in drug overdose deaths, partnering epidemiologists with ME/C offices can greatly enhance the utility of the…
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

This webinar originally occurred on October 17th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour There are over 2000 medical examiner and coroner offices throughout the United States. All are involved in determining the cause and manner of death and communicating this information to…

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…
chemical compounds

Opioids & Emerging Drug Threats – Integrating Public Safety and Health Data for a Forensic Response Webinar Series

Overview Building on the momentum of the National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum held earlier this year in Washington, D.C., the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) will assist the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in a complementary initiative surrounding the topic by hosting…
Decorative banner mimicking the appearance of concrete with Forensic Technology Center of Excellence fingerprint logo

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…
Decorative banner mimicking the appearance of concrete with Forensic Technology Center of Excellence fingerprint logo

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: 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 two-day conference, held in Charleston, SC, focused…

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…

HHRRC – Building Forensic Capacity Post-Conflict: Lessons from Uganda

This webinar originally occurred on March 28th, 2019Duration: 1.5 hours This presentation introduces research conducted in Uganda at the nexus of forensic science and transitional justice, highlighting a large-scale forensic investigation and human identification capacity-building workshop for Ugandan stakeholders. Detailed…

HHRRC – Stable Isotope Analysis in a Humanitarian Context

The webinar originally occurred on March 12th, 2019Duration: 1.5 hours This webinar will introduce stable isotope analysis and its validity as analytical tool in establishing the geographic origin and life history of unidentified individuals from forensic and humanitarian contexts. In…

HHRRC – Isotopes Aiding Identification of Undocumented Border Crosser Human Remains

This webinar originally occurred on February 6th, 2019Duration: 1.5 hours This webinar highlights the theory and methods of isotopic analysis to explain how it can be used to assist in the identification of human remains for undocumented border crossers who…

Success Story: Uncovering Key Details of Skeletal Remains through 3D-ID Software

NIJ and North Carolina State University Report Date January 2019 Impact “3D-ID has been an invaluable tool for us. Many of our unknown persons come from populations south of the Border. We use this program for every case with great…

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

Overview 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: 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…

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…

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 – Stable Isotope Forensics & Unknown Persons Investigations

This webinar originally occurred on May 24, 2017 Duration: 2 hours 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 the applications and limitations…

HHRRC – Analysis and Conservation of Human Remains in Cambodia

The webinar originally occurred on May 16th, 2017 Duration: 1 hour 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 Ta Chan,…

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…
skeletons

Success Story: Creating an International Databank of Skeletal Biomarkers for Human Identification

NIJ and University of South Florida Report Date September 2016 Impact “Forensic anthropology today is largely about applying methods and theory from studies in human variation to aid in the identification of human remains. The key is to find an…
sam quinones headshot

Success Story: Understanding the Ecology of Human Decomposition Methods for Estimating Postmortem Interval

NIJ and the National Museum of Health and Medicine Report Date April 2015 Impact “In life and death the body is its own ecosystem.” – Franklin Damann, PhD National Museum of Health and Medicine Click here to read the full…