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Welcome to Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Website!

2014 TIFS Conference

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presenation 11

On April 18 and 19, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences hosted an open house for its new Forensic Genetics Laboratory. The newly converted 15,000-square-foot facility, formerly the train bay for a Nabisco baking plant, is located in the Texas Medical Center. The laboratory annually serves an average of 45 different agencies within Harris County and the surrounding area and completes testing on an average of 3,400 cases each year while maintaining no backlog of unprocessed cases.

To learn more about the work of the Forensic Genetics Laboratory, view the video below.


U.S. Senator John Cornyn recently visited the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Forensic Genetics Laboratory to meet with Harris County leaders, local and statewide victims’ advocates and Debbie Smith, for whom the Debbie Smith Act of 2004 is named. Senator Cornyn commended the Institute for its sound scientific testing standards and its ability to achieve and maintain no backlog of untested cases, a standard he hopes to set and share nationwide through his efforts in Washington, D.C. Click here to read more about Senator Cornyn’s visit to the Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Debbie Smith, a sexual assualt survivor  and founder of Hope Exists After Rape Trauma (H-E-A-R-T). and her husband Rob Smith also shared their story with the staff of the Forensic Genetics Laboratory. To learn more about Debbie Smith and to read about her story of survival, visit the H-E-A-R-T website at: www.h-e-a-r-t.info.

The information provided will not only help you understand our operation but also give you insight into the complex world of forensic medicine and science.

Our office has a unique and highly specialized mission in which we provide forensic investigation and analysis to the citizens of Harris County through two fully accredited services:

(a) The Medical Examiner Service encompasses investigations, forensic pathology, anthropology, morgue, forensic imaging, postmortem toxicology, histology, and finance and administration. (b)The Forensic Crime Laboratory Service includes the five distinct forensic disciplines of Drug Chemistry, Forensic Toxicology, Trace Evidence, Firearms Identification and Forensic Genetics (serology/DNA) as well as laboratory administrative services.

Each service has its own objectives that respond to the current issues and needs of Harris County which go beyond the determination of the cause of death.

The Institute of Forensic Sciences investigates sudden death in order to determine cause and manner of death, preserves evidence, contributes to public health/safety surveillance, analyzes physical evidence, and provides expert testimony in courts of law.

The Forensic Pathology Service and the Crime Laboratory Service are jointly committed to serving the community by creating and maintaining a dynamic academic environment to maximize awareness of the forensic sciences and by being in the forefront of utilizing the latest methodologies and technologies. We have established an academically oriented forensic center and created unique learning opportunities for visiting medical students, lawyers, law enforcement officers and physicians.

The HCIFS is a member institution of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas since 1983.


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