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MFS in Forensic Molecular Biology

Students in lab

Forensic Molecular Biology prepares students to work in crime laboratories as DNA analysts and technical leaders across the country and abroad. Students learn chemical, physical, immunological and microscopic methods using state-of-the-art lab facilities. They receive expert instruction in both the theoretical and practical aspects of advanced methods, such as DNA extraction and data interpretation. The program is particularly strong in population genetics and human genetic variation.

In addition to our accreditation by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), students benefit from unparalleled access to internship opportunities in federal, state and local government and private forensic DNA laboratories in the D.C. area.

Core courses focus on:

  • Training in chemical, physical, immunological and microscopic methods
    Used to examine and identify body fluid stains at a crime scene
  • Theoretical and practical aspects of advanced methods in forensic molecular biology
    DNA extraction, quantitation, amplification of STR markers and mitochondrial DNA, data interpretation and population genetics
  • Forensic physical sciences
    Fingerprints, firearm and tool mark examinations, document examinations and examinations of trace evidence, such as glass, soil, paint, hairs and fibers, crime scene investigations, operation and functioning of the forensic science laboratory
  • Principles of criminal law and procedure
    Preparation and presentation of evidence, qualifications and preparation of expert witnesses, testifying as an expert witness and methods of legal research
  • Laboratory classes
    Students will participate in mock cases. They will receive evidence; maintain the chain of custody; analyze the evidence to identify and determine the nature of body fluids; extract, quantify and type the DNA; interpret the data; calculate the statistical significance of a match; issue a report and return the evidence.

Requirements

Interested applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences from an accredited college or university. Students must meet the FBI standards for a forensic DNA technical leader, having had 12 credits of course work either as an undergraduate or graduate student in the following areas before coming to GW: genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology/molecular genetics, statistics and/or population genetics. These courses must be taken as part of the undergraduate curriculum or before registering for graduate classes.

Equipping Future Crime Solvers

Equipping Future Crime Solvers

The Forensic Molecular Biology Laboratory is 1100 square feet and includes an autoclave, PCR hood, gel-electrophoresis equipment, digital photography equipment and water purification system in addition to PC and Macintosh computers.