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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
education, training, and staffing of medical examiner offices. Funding could also be used to help current medicalexaminer systems modernize their facilities to meet currentCenters for Disease Control and Prevention-recommendedautopsy safety requirements.
Congress should appropriate resources to the NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH) and NIFS, jointly, to supportresearch, education, and training in forensic pathology.NIH, with NIFS participation, or NIFS in collaborationwith content experts, should establish a study section toestablish goals, to review and evaluate proposals in theseareas, and to allocate funding for collaborative researchto be conducted by medical examiner offices and medicaluniversities. In addition, funding, in the form of medicalstudent loan forgiveness and/or fellowship support, shouldbe made available to pathology residents who choose forensic pathology as their specialty.
NIFS, in collaboration with NIH, the National Associationof Medical Examiners, the American Board of MedicolegalDeath Investigators, and other appropriate professionalorganizations, should establish a Scientific Working Group(SWG) for forensic pathology and medicolegal death investigation. The SWG should develop and promote standardsfor best practices, administration, staffing, education, training, and continuing education for competent death sceneinvestigation and postmortem examinations. Best practicesshould include the utilization of new technologies such aslaboratory testing for the molecular basis of diseases andthe implementation of specialized imaging techniques.
All medical examiner offices should be accredited pursuant to NIFS-endorsed standards within a timeframe to beestablished by NIFS.
All federal funding should be restricted to accredited offices that meet NIFS-endorsed standards or that demonstrate significant and measurable progress in achievingaccreditation within prescribed deadlines.
All medicolegal autopsies should be performed or supervised by a board certified forensic pathologist. This requirement should take effect within a timeframe to beestablished by NIFS, following consultation with governing state institutions.