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Toxicology

The role of the Toxicology Laboratory is to assist the investigating Medical Examiner in determining the cause and manner of death by utilizing the techniques of analytical forensic toxicology. By employing such techniques as gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, immunoassay, and other sensitive analytical methods, we attempt to answer the question: "Did drugs or poisons play a role in the death of this individual?"  We seek these answers in the fluid and tissue samples recovered from the autopsy as well as from other relevant evidence uncovered by our investigation.  When a thorough analysis is complete, a final report of our findings is issued to the pathologist, who correlates toxicology results with autopsy findings and the circumstances of the case to determine cause and manner of death. When called upon we provide expert testimony in a court of law on the interpretation of our findings.

The information generated by our Laboratory has served many useful purposes over the years.  For example: epidemiologists from various academic institutions and the Centers for Disease Control have studied our cases; law enforcement agencies such as Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and United States Drug Enforcement Agency have utilized our data to understand patterns of abuse and drug-induced deaths in our community.  Research conducted in our laboratory and in collaboration with scientists at the University of Miami has expanded our acknowledge of toxic effects of drugs.

The role of a Medical Examiner Forensic Toxicology Laboratory is to serve the community in many different ways by revealing truths, providing instruction and research and acting as a resource for those wishing to understand more about human behavior.

History

The Toxicology Laboratory was established in 1956 when the Medical Examiner Department began operations. It started as a very limited facility with only one employee. Over the next 46 years it evolved into a world-renowned, state-of-the-art, forensic toxicology laboratory serving the community.  The Toxicology Laboratory is located on the second floor of the Morgue building at the new Medical Examiner facility on N.W. 10th Avenue.  The 20,000 square foot facility contains 10 individual laboratories, a walk-in refrigerator and freezer for long-term specimen storage and over two million dollars in instrumentation and equipment. There are currently 13 employees, including 10 professional forensic toxicologists and 3 support staff.  For over 46 years the Laboratory has proudly served the law enforcement agencies and courts in Miami-Dade County as well as becoming a training and research center for forensic scientists from all over the world.

Diane M. Boland, PhD,  DABFT became Director of the Toxicology Laboratory on July 2012

Dr. Boland can be contacted by calling 305-545-2450 or by email at dboland@miamidade.gov.

Mr. George W. Hime, the Assistant Director, can be reached by contacting 305-547-5746 or by email at gwh@miamidade.gov for further information.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Mon Jul 9, 2012 11:57:08 AM
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