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Welcome to Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Website

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences is a science-based, independent operation comprised of two distinct forensic services for the Harris County community – the Medical Examiner Service and the Crime Laboratory Service.

The Medical Examiner Service investigates sudden death to determine cause and manner and to preserve evidence. The service encompasses the fields of Forensic Investigations, Forensic Pathology and morgue services, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Imaging, Postmortem Toxicology and Histology.

The Crime Laboratory analyzes physical evidence and includes five distinct disciplines of Drug Chemistry, Forensic Toxicology, Trace Evidence, Firearms Identification and Forensic Genetics (serology/DNA).

While each service has its own objectives, both are jointly dedicated to serving the needs of the Harris County community and the justice system.

Click here to learn more about the Institute’s unique and highly specialized mission to provide forensic investigation and analysis to the citizens of Harris County. 

New Building


Harris County began the planning process for the Forensic Center in 2007. Luis A. Sanchez, M.D., Executive Director and Chief Medical Examiner, in collaboration with the Institute’s leadership team, staff, and project managers from the Harris County Public Infrastructure Department, as well as their consultants, have given thoughtful consideration to each element of the design and function of the future advanced Forensic Center.

This forward-thinking team has dedicated themselves to ensure that the facility meets the highest quality standards and features state-of-the-art forensic technologies. The comprehensive planning process for the Forensic Center, which began in 2007, incorporated experts from business, medical, laboratory and scientific fields. The resulting design culminates in an integrated use of space flowing seamlessly between clinical, laboratory, administrative, public and teaching/training areas. Consideration was also given to the outside architecture of the Forensic Center to ensure that it complements the design of other neighboring institutions located on the TMC Campus.

The Master Plan includes two phases:

·          Phase One is a nine-story, 200,000-square-foot tower. The construction of Phase One began in summer 2014. Upon completion, the nine-story tower will house approximately 140,000 square feet of laboratory, morgue, administrative, public and teaching/training space with unfinished shell space available for expansion.


·          Phase Two is a four-story building for future expansion to accommodate the growing needs of the Harris County community, and the agencies and families served by the Institute.


Phase One of the Forensic Center is currently under construction on a 3.2-acre site on the campus of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas across from the existing Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences building. The new Forensic Center is expected to be complete and open for operation in 2017.

In January 2013, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences opened a state-of-the-art Forensic Genetics Laboratory in the renovated train bay of a historic Nabisco baking plant. The 15,000-square-foot facility is located in the Texas Medical Center’s John P. McGovern Campus at Holcombe Boulevard and Almeda Road. The location allows for close collaboration with other renowned medical and research science faculties within the campus.

As one of five forensic laboratories of the Institute of Forensic Sciences, the Forensic Genetics Laboratory analyzes DNA evidence to provide unbiased, reliable results to the justice system and to the Harris County Medical Examiner in a timely manner with uncompromised integrity.

Click here to learn more about the Forensic Genetics Laboratory.



The Institute is a member institution of the Texas Medical Center© since 1983 and maintains its accreditation by six specific Forensic Science accrediting organizations.

Click here to learn more about the Institute’s accreditations.

News and Events
National Geographic News-Forensic Fly Moves North
Opinion by the County Attorney Regarding the Oath of Office

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