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Harris County Breaks Ground on New Forensic Facility

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Harris County and TMC officials broke ground on the construction of its new forensic facility. The 200,000 square foot, nine-story tower is slated to be complete in early 2017 and will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology as well as integrated clinical, laboratory, administrative, public and teaching/training areas.


“Today, we celebrate not just the construction of a building, but the work to be housed here and those dedicated to the role of sound scientific evidence in the pursuit of justice,” said Dr. Luis A. Sanchez, HCIFS executive director and chief medical examiner. “When complete, the new facility’s open lab design will foster collaboration between both the Medical Examiner and Crime Laboratory services.”


Dr. Sanchez also recognized the staff of the Institute by stating that they have consistently provided the highest level of public service for years. He closed the event stating, “their inquisitive thinking and commitment to science and the administration of justice is the real bedrock upon which this facility will stand.”


Click here to read the full transcript of Dr. Sanchez’s speech from the Groundbreaking Ceremony.

New Building


Harris County began the planning process for the new forensic facility 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 facility.

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 new forensic facility, 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 new forensic facility 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 will be a second building intended for future expansion to accommodate the growing needs of Harris County and the agencies and families served.


Phase One of the new forensic facility 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 facility is expected to be complete and open for operation in 2017.


Forensic Genetics Laboratory

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.


Who We Are and What We Do

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.

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.

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