The BMFS program offers concentrations (optional) in the following subjects:

1. Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis

2. Forensic Chemistry/Trace Evidence Analysis

Interested students may concentrate in a particular area of forensic sciences by choosing electives within that speciality.


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List of Elective Courses

Medicolegal Death Investigation (FS 709, 2 Credits)

This lecture-based course will provide the student with an overview of the basic practices and principles of medicolegal death investigations. Specific lectures will cover the procedures and skills necessary to conduct a thorough medicolegal investigation of death, knowledge of various types of traumatic injuries, the knowledge necessary to understand the characteristics that differentiate the manners of death and the skills to conduct an appropriately directed investigation. The curriculum will prepare the students to take the national certification examinations offered by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators. A general knowledge of anatomy is recommended prior to enrollment.

Pattern Evidence Analysis (FS 706, 2 credits)

This combination lecture and lab-based course will provide students with overview of various types of pattern evidence with an emphasis on the systematic approaches to pattern evidence comparison and analysis. The history of fingerprint identification, fingerprint processing and comparison techniques, footwear and tire impression analysis, toolmark analysis, and the importance of photography in pattern evidence documentation will be discussed. Development of pattern evidence using mechanical, chemical and visual techniques is incorporated. 

Forensic Toxicology (FS 830, 2 credits) – (approved Forensic Chemistry/Trace Analysis Track Elective)

This lecture-based course will provide an overview of the pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and toxicology of common drugs of interest to the forensic toxicologist. An emphasis will be placed on applying the principles of pharmacokinetics to the interpretation of drug blood and urine levels, and on developing an understanding of how drugs (including ethanol) interact with the biology and physiology of the human body. Students will also acquire knowledge of the chemical structure of common drugs. Prerequisite: Forensic Chemistry

Advanced Topics in DNA Analysis (FS 730, 2 credits) – (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This course will build on topics presented in the Forensic DNA Analysis course and laboratory. Students will gain experience interpreting STR data from compromised and mixed sourse samples, and will understand the theory behind DNA profile frequency calculations. An in-depth review of techniques and methodology used in a forensic DNA laboratory and the roles that accreditation, validation and quality assurance play will be discussed. Prerequisites: Molecular Biology of Forensic DNA Analysis and Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory

Case Practicum in Forensic Biology/DNA (FS 840, 2 credits) – (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This course will build on topics presented in the Forensic DNA Analysis and Biology courses. Students will be given the opportunity to independently work on their own case while fostering a better understanding of the relationship between evidence collection, biological screening and downstream PCR results. Prerequisites: Molecular Biology of Forensic DNA Analysis, Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory, Forensic Biology and Forensic Biology Laboratory and Advanced DNA

Analysis of Ignitable Liquids and Explosives (FS 735, 2 credits) – (approved Forensic Chemistry/Trace Analysis Track Elective)

This course will expose students to an in-depth treatment of the analysis of ignitable liquids and explosives. Practical and theoretical aspects of qualitative and quantitative measurements using current methodolgies such as GC/MS and UV-VIS will be discussed. Prerequisite: Forensic Chemistry (enrollment preference will be given to students who have successfully completed Instrumental Analysis Laboratory)

Analysis of Controlled Substances (FS 740, 2 credits) – (approved Forensic Chemistry/Trace Analysis Track Elective)

This lecture-based course will provide information on the important methods of analysis of most commonly abused illicit substances including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, hallucinogens and amphetamines. Additionally, the production, distribution and history of these commonly abused drugs will be covered. Laboratory accreditation requirements will also be discussed. Prerequisite: Forensic Chemistry

Advanced Topics in Forensic Chemistry (FS 803, 2 credits) – (approved Forensic Chemistry/Trace Analysis Track Elective)

This lecture-based course will provide students with an understanding of advanced analytical techniques utilized by modern state and national forensic laboratories. Lecture topics will include: Tandem techniques such as GC/MS-MS and LC/MS-MS, high-resolution techniques such as FT-MS and ICP-MS, Raman, Ion Mobility, and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy and X-Ray Fluorescence. Prerequisite: Forensic Chemistry

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (FS 713, 2 credits)

This lecture and lab-based course will provide students with fundamental knowledge in the area of bloodstain pattern analysis including the scientific principles and practical applications of bloodstain pattern analysis to forensic casework. The procedures and methods for recognition, documentation and evaluation of bloodstain patterns will be covered. Additionally, the principles of physics, blood dynamics and the geometric significance of bloodstain patterns will be explored. Prerequisite: Crime Scene Investigation

Internship in Biomedical Forensic Sciences (FS 871, 2 credits)

An internship in a forensic setting is encouraged, and may be approved for academic credit depending on the number of hours and the nature of the work completed during the internship. With prior approval from the student’s thesis advisors and the internship site supervisor, work completed at an internship may be used as the basis of the student’s thesis. A completed evaluation from the internship supervisor describing the nature of the work completed and the quality of the student’s performance will be required. In addition, the student will be required to write a summary of his/her internship experiences and responsibilities. Note: The student may count their internship towards completion of a track given the internship is within the proposed speciality.

* – May not be offered every year.


Other Approved Courses

Up to 6 credits may be taken outside of the BMFS program of study. Unless indicated, only BMFS program advisor approval is required. Approved courses include:

Fall Semester

Biostatistics with Computer (GMS CI 670, 4 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This lecture and laboratory course is designed for students with no prior experience with statistics who want to utilize computer software (i.e. SAS) in performing statistical analysis. Topics include the collection, classification, and presentation of descriptive data; the rationale of hypothesis testing; experimental design; t-tests; correlation and regression analysis; and analysis of contingency tables.

Clinical Applications in Human Genetics (GMS GC 605, 4 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

The major objective of this course is to introduce students to the basic concepts and principles of human genetics and their clinical applications. Topics include the chromosomal, molecular and biochemical basis of disease as well as introduction to prenatal diagnosis, genetic counseling, the use of bioinformatics in medicine, and the etiology of congenital anomalies. In addition, the legal, ethical, and social issues in applied human genetics will be explored.

Biochemistry/Cell Biology (GMS BI 751, 6 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

Basic principles and concepts of medical school-level Biochemistry and Cell Biology in a one-semester course. Topics include protein structure and function; mechanisms of enzyme action; nutrition and metabolism; membrane structure and receptor signaling; cell cycle regulation; DNA and RNA structure and function; regulation of gene expression and techniques in Molecular Medicine. Clinical correlations are provided throughout the course.

Cellular Organization of Tissues (GMS AN 722, 4 credits)

Study of the basic types of tissues, followed by application to understanding the cellular organization of organs, and the anatomical basis for their function. Emphasis is on functional morphology at the light and electron microscope levels. Basic concepts in embryology and pathology are introduced where relevant. Computer-based virtual microscopy in laboratory exercises and discussions supplements companion lectures. This course is an introductory version of MS 123 Medical Histology, specially designed to complement GMS curricula. All students are required to have a laptop computer that meets BUSM standards.

Spring Semester

Elementary Biostatistics (GMS MS 700, 2 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This is an introductory course in statistics and provides a foundation for statistical analyses and data interpretation. The goal of this course is to provide a working understanding of experimental design and statistical analyses that are appropriate for varioius types of biologically and neuroscience based experiments. This course will be beneficial to students who have little to no experience with statistics and would like to learn more about experimental design, probability and hypothesis testing.

Introduction to Interdisciplinary Systems Science: Dynamic Modeling (GMS AN 820, 2 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This course in interdisciplinary science will provide students with a hands-on experience in the development and use of systems dynamic and computer based models to study biological systems.

Molecular Biology (GMS BI 782, 4 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This course focuses on advanced molecular biology using the current literature as a source of information. Emphasis is also placed on relevant research techniques. Topics include structure and function of nucleic acids, recombinant DNA research, molecular biology of important cellular processes, and regulation of gene expression emphasizing control mechanisms in eukaryotic cells. Please note this is considered an advanced class and is recommended for BMFS students with a undergraduate degree in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology or a strong background in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. Prerequisite: Biochemistry and consent from the course director and BMFS Program Advisor.

Mass Spectrometry, Proteomics and Functional Genomics (GMS BI 793, 2 credits) (approved Forensic Chemistry/Trace and Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

This course gives investigators the background necessary to effectively design mass spectrometric (MS) experiments and interpret data. Instrumentation is described at a level appropriate to graduate students in biochemistry; the structure of biological macromolecules is addressed as it applies to MS. Students gain a full understanding of modern MS and its effective use in their research. Lectures are devoted to instrumentation, ionization methods and applications to proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, glycoconjugates, nucleic acids and uses of the technology in proteomics, biotechnology and medicine. Prerequisite: Biochemistry and consent from the course director and BMFS program advisor. This is an advanced course intended for BMFS students who have a strong background Biochemistry and/or organic chemistry.

Introduction to Pathology and Pathophysiology of Disease (GMS PA 600, 4 credits)
Lectures and discussion sessions presenting the basic morphologic and functional changes of major disease processes: cell injury and death, inflammation, cell and tissue response to microbial organisms, atherosclerosis, cancer, etc. Prerequisite: Histology and consent from BMFS program advisor.

Summer Semester

Clinical Laboratory Genetics I: Cytogenetics (GMS MS 506, 4 credits) (approved Forensic Biology/DNA Analysis Track Elective)

Advanced course designed for those considering a clinical or research career in human genetics. Emphasis is on clinical cytogenetics (chromosome testing). Course covers types of chromosome abnormalities, methodology, nomenclature and clinical significance in pregnancy, birth defects, and cancer. Laboratory work includes basic blood culture, chromosome preparation, banding, identification, and karyotyping. Course provides updated review of latest cytogenetic methodology and applications, such as FISH, comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), and array CGH.