Forensic Laboratory Services & Medical Examiner's Office Operations
This course is designed primarily for human rights investigators and international forensic specialists working in the field of human rights who are unfamiliar with forensic laboratory and medical examiner systems. It offers an in-depth overview of the essentials of forensic laboratory services and disciplines, as well as medical examiner operations. The course objective is to develop a working knowledge of available forensic services and reporting, and an understanding of the necessary quality control measures in producing court-usable evidence. Completing this course gives the student an understanding of commonly available forensic laboratory services, and the forensic standards required in order to assess the collection, analysis, and reporting of evidence.
This course spans two weeks and includes 80 hours of lectures and practical training. Training is provided in conjunction with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office (TCME). General course topics include:
- firearms and toolmarks,
- forensic anthropology and pathology,
- DNA/biological evidence,
- trace evidence,
- latent prints with an overall focus on quality assurance and quality control practices.
The course includes practical exercises in lab sections and attendance at an autopsy.
While this course is not intended to train analysts in forensic specialties, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the array of services available to the human rights community.
This course is appropriate for human rights field investigators, medical professionals, employees of human rights NGO's, journalists, and anyone who might need to utilize and evaluate forensic services.
- Comfortable clothing and closed shoes.
- Scrubs are provided by the Medical Examiner's Office for all course participants.
- Stefan Schmitt is Director of the International Forensic Program at Physicians for Human Rights. In 1992 Schmitt helped set the foundation for an independent non-governmental forensic anthropology team exhuming and analyzing skeletal remains from mass graves in Guatemala. Prior to joining Physicians for Human Rights, he worked for nine and a half years in the Crime Scene Section at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Crime Lab.
- Dr. Nizam Peerwani is the Chief Medical Examiner in Tarrant County, Texas. He is a long-time member and collaborator with the International Forensic Program at PHR and a member of our International Forensic Program's Advisory Council. He also i
- Tarrant County Medical Examiner Forensic Laboratory Analysts
The course is located in Fort Worth, Texas, with most training taking place at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office.
This course is typically held in the fall. Further information on dates and deadlines will be posted here when available.
The cost of this course is $1500. This covers the training, accommodations in double rooms, and breakfast. Single accommodations can be arranged for an additional $700 per student.
- Accommodations will be provided from the evening of the Sunday beginning the first week, through the morning of Saturday at the end of the second week. Students should plan to arrive by 5pm on the Sunday in order to attend a course orientation dinner.
- Lodging for students is at a hotel in downtown Fort Worth within easy walking distance to restaurants and venues.
- Students are required to cover their own transportation to and from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in Texas.
- Transportation from the hotel to the class location will be via public buses. Students may also choose to walk to class.
- Basic continental breakfasts will be provided each morning (fruit, granola bars, muffins, coffee).
- Students should budget an additional $25-50 per day for lunch and dinner expenses.
Students must submit:
- the Course Application, (pdf)
- a current CV/Resume, and
- 2 letters of recommendations - use this form (pdf)
Late applications will be considered, space permitting.
A limited number of scholarships are available to offset the cost of tuition. To apply for a tuition scholarship, please submit our Scholarship Application (pdf) with your course application (pdf). Scholarship notifications will be sent by [date TBA]. Please be aware that we are not able to assist with travel expenses.
If you are in need of a letter of invitation in order to apply for a visa to come to this course, please use this form (pdf).
Acceptance notifications will be sent by [date TBA].
$750 non-refundable deposit is due by [date TBA], with the balance due by [date TBA]. No refunds will be given after [date TBA].