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Advancing Molecular Diagnostics in Sudden Unexplained Deaths

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2021
18 pages

This is the Final Summary Overview of a project that concluded it has directly improved how sudden, unexpected deaths are investigated by the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner by adding molecular analysis of 95 cardiac disease genes to its testing options.


The reported research project has shown that molecular diagnostic testing has become a powerful additional test, enabling medical examiners to determine the cause of death in cases that would have previously remained undetermined. This project’s findings include two categories: 1) an evaluation summary of the technical specifications for the panel of 95 cardiac genes and 2) a listing of scholarly publications that resulted from this grant-funded research. The casework reported demonstrates that timely and accurate diagnosis of medically important diseases in a decedent has significant impact on certifying death and on the surviving relatives of decedents by providing them the opportunity to seek treatment for certain hereditary diseases. 1 table and 7 references

Date Published: March 1, 2021