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The National Institute of Justice — At the Forefront of Forensic Science Research

Date Published
July 16, 2019

NIJ has a unique mission when it comes to forensic science. We support strengthening the accuracy, reliability, and validity of the forensic sciences through funding cutting edge research.

The value of forensic testing has been increasingly recognized and the demand for forensic analysis has grown exponentially especially in disciplines such as pattern and trace evidence, toxicology, seized drugs, medicolegal death investigation, and DNA.

Here are some of the ways you can work with us to push forensic sciences forward:

Rigorous Research

The demand for tools and technologies in all areas of forensic science, far exceed the current capabilities of the field. To help meet that demand, the NIJ has funded forensic research and development projects for over a decade.

Our fiscal year 2020 funding for forensic activities explores the recent DNA funding awards we made, and takes directions into digital evidence, identifying novel psychoactive substances, and evaluating the quality of pattern evidence from tire treads and bloodstains. 

Our research publications based on these efforts offer direct support to practitioners who are looking to increase efficiency and advance forensic testing within the laboratory environment

Direct Funding

NIJ is committed to a sustained national effort that recognizes research and development as a long-term solution while providing support to forensic laboratories to address the immediate concerns of DNA capacity enhancement and efficiency improvement.

Until 2020, NIJ supported the direct funding of state and local forensic laboratories. In fiscal year 2020, all state and local forensic capacity enhancement programs previously administered by NIJ moved to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Training Opportunities

The NIJ Forensic Technology Center of Excellence is committed to turning research in to practice through technology transfer initiatives and establishing comprehensive best practices, professional landscape studies, and guidelines to agencies dedicated to combating crime.

One of the key ways they accomplish this is through the many webinars they offer. They also recently completed the Emerging Forensic Research Webinar Series, and the archived webinars are available to view on their website.

Forensic Laboratory Needs Working Group

As part of our efforts to improve federal coordination with state, tribal, and local forensic science laboratories, we convened a Forensic Laboratory Needs Working Group (FLN-TWG). The group, comprised of selected crime lab directors from across the country, will explore new ways to increase casework efficiencies and help transition research that’s completed into practice in laboratories. Some of this work will be featured in an upcoming Forensic Laboratory Needs Assessment publication.

Date Modified: April 17, 2020

Updated to reflect that the Office of Justice Programs has realigned the forensic science capacity enhancement programs to allow components to focus on their strengths and core mission. Learn more about this move.

Date Created: August 27, 2019