Forensic Lab and Pathology


Forensic medicine includes the collection and analysis of medical evidence and forensic toxicology to consider the cause of death or injury. In forensic pathology you examine post-mortem the range of sudden and unexpected deaths, estimate the time of death, determine the type of weapon used, distinguish homicide from suicide and establish the identity of the deceased. Forensic analysis and pathology cover a wide range of applications from histology, anthropology, toxicology to DNA analysis. Microscopy plays a significant role in forensic labs which execute these tasks.

DNA analysis in Sexual Assault Cases
As a forensic scientist examining sexual assault cases, you want to obtain a meaningful DNA profile of the perpetrator based on the traces found at the victim. When you examine vaginal swabs taken from the victim, you are faced with samples of cell mixtures, which are tedious to analyze. Furthermore, only small amounts of sperm cells might be present. Often, differential extraction is used to separate epithelial cells from sperm cells. However, the procedure is labor-intense, time consuming and leads to moderate success rates in subsequent genetic fingerprinting. Laser microdissection from ZEISS offers a convenient and effective way to identify and isolate individual cells reliably and fast providing the basis for pure DNA profiles.

Forensic Pathology & Forensic Toxicology
As forensic pathologist, you want to determine how and why someone died. You investigate the cause of death and if it was an accident, a natural cause, murder or suicide. The autopsy generally starts with a macroscopic observation of the body before internal organs are examined. Especially in cases of sudden death, you need to look at histopathological sections with a light or electron microscope to e.g. rule out poisoning, determine wound age, or check for long-term drug abuse.