The Department of Forensic Biology, a laboratory operating within the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, has the mission of performing DNA testing on physical evidence from criminal cases within the City of New York. Staffed by more than 160 criminalists, supervisors and managers, the OCME Department of Forensic Biology performs serology and DNA testing on nearly every category of crime: homicide, sexual assault, felony assault, robbery, burglary, hate crimes and weapons possession.
In addition to standard autosomal STR genotyping, the Department of Forensic Biology performs Y-chromosome STR typing, high sensitivity STR typing of low template DNA samples, mitochondrial DNA sequencing, and molecular genetic testing for genetic predispositions for diseases that may cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Death (SUDS).
The laboratory is located in Manhattan and can be contacted as follows:
Charles S. Hirsch Center for Forensic Sciences
421 East 26th Street
New York, New York 10016
Logically evolving out of the serology laboratory established in the 1930’s, the OCME Department of Forensic Biology has been in existence since 1990. Important milestones include:
• 1990 The Serology Laboratory becomes the Department of Forensic Biology.
• 1995 The Department of Forensic Biology is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB).
• 1996 The Department of Forensic Biology becomes the first laboratory in the nation to begin using STR’s in forensic casework.
• 1997 Approval for expansion to provide DNA testing on all sexual assaults in New York City.
• 1998 The Department of Forensic Biology is the first lab in the nation to begin using Y-chromosome STR’s in forensic casework.
• 1999 Beginning January 1st, all sexual assaults are accepted for testing.
• 2000 The Department of Forensic Biology joins CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) with 484 DNA profiles; the first hit solves a Manhattan rape pattern.
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 building.
The Department of Forensic Biology provides DNA testing for World Trade Center and AA flight 587 victim identification efforts.
• 2003 The Molecular Genetics group testing accepts its first case.
• 2004 The Missing Persons/Unidentified Human Remains group is formed.
• 2005 The 500th DNA match letter is sent by the Department of Forensic Biology.
The mitochondrial DNA group accepts its first case.
• 2006 The Department of Forensic Biology begins High Sensitivity DNA testing.
• 2007 The OCME DNA Building opens on February 12th.
The Department of Forensic Biology begins DNA testing on NYC property crimes.
• 2010 After 10 years as a local CODIS laboratory the Department of Forensic Biology now has over 20,000 DNA profiles in the database.
• 2011 The Department achieves accreditation under the ISO17025 based ASCLD/LAB International program.
• 2012 As of August 2012, the Department of Forensic Biology has matched DNA evidence to 7,393 convicted offenders in New York State and the rest of the US.