NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner


The OCME Department of Forensic Biology operates the largest public DNA crime laboratory in North America. Staffed by more than 160 forensic scientists, supervisors and managers, the lab performs serology and DNA testing on physical evidence from criminal cases within the City of New York. The lab tests thousands of items of evidence each year from nearly every category of crime including homicide, sexual assault, felony assault, robbery, burglary, hate crimes, and weapons possession. The lab also performs testing associated with missing persons, unidentified remains, and the ongoing effort to identify World Trade Center victims.

The Department is recognized for its leadership in new and emerging technologies. In addition to standard autosomal STR (short tandem repeat) genotyping, the lab performs Y-chromosome STR typing, high sensitivity STR typing of low template DNA samples, and mitochondrial DNA sequencing.

The Department of Forensic Biology is located in Manhattan and can be contacted using the following information:

Charles S. Hirsch Center for Forensic Sciences
421 East 26th Street
New York, New York 10016
Primary phone number: 212.323.1200
Secondary phone number: 718.239.8500
Email: DNALab@ocme.nyc.gov

Historical overview

The OCME Department of Forensic Biology was established in 1990, having evolved from the serology laboratory in existence since the 1930s. Important milestones in the history of the Department of Forensic Biology include:

  • 1990    The Serology Laboratory becomes the Department of Forensic Biology.
  • 1995    The Department is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB).
  • 1996    The Department becomes the first laboratory in the nation to begin using STRs in forensic casework.
  • 1997    The Department receives approval for expansion to provide DNA testing on all sexual assaults in New York City.
  • 1998    The Department becomes the first laboratory in the nation to begin using Y-chromosome STRs in forensic casework.
  • 1999    All sexual assaults in New York City are accepted for testing by the Department beginning on January 1.
  • 2000    The Department joins CODIS (the Combined DNA Index System) with 484 DNA profiles; the first hit solves a Manhattan rape pattern.
  • 2000    The Rape Kit Backlog Project sends the first of approximately 17,000 rape kits to contract DNA laboratories.
  • 2001    Ground is broken on the new DNA laboratory building, the Charles S. Hirsch Center for Forensic Sciences.
  • 2001    The Department provides DNA testing for World Trade Center and American Airlines flight 587 victim identification efforts.
  • 2003    The Molecular Genetics testing group accepts its first case.
  • 2003    The Rape Kit Backlog Project is completed.
  • 2004    The Missing Persons/Unidentified Human Remains group is formed.
  • 2005    The Department has its 500th match between DNA evidence samples and convicted offenders from New York State and the rest of the United States.
  • 2005    The mitochondrial DNA group accepts its first case.
  • 2006    The Department begins High Sensitivity DNA testing.
  • 2007    The Charles S. Hirsch Center for Forensic Sciences opens on February 12.
  • 2007    The Department begins DNA testing on New York City property crimes.
  • 2010    After 10 years as a local CODIS laboratory, the Department has over 20,000 DNA profiles in the database.
  • 2011    The Department achieves accreditation under the ISO17025 based ASCLD/LAB International program.
  • 2012    The Department has matched DNA evidence to 7,393 convicted offenders in New York State and the rest of the United States as of August.
  • 2014    The Department collaborates with other OCME units and partner agencies to host the first-ever New York City Missing Persons Day, which has resulted in five identifications to date and provided information for hundreds of family members of the missing.
  • 2015    The Department has over 3,600 matches between cases, and over 10,000 matches between DNA evidence samples and convicted offenders from New York State and the rest of the United States.