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DFS Leaders Selected to Speak at Historic Forensics Meeting

Friday, January 30, 2015

DFS Director Max Houck and General Counsel Christine Funk have been selected as speakers for a gathering of international forensic science leaders outside London next week.

The four-day Royal Society of Chemistry event, “A Paradigm Shift for Forensic Science,” will bring together scientists, senior legal professionals, investigative authorities and representatives of funding bodies from around the world. They will debate and discuss the future of forensic science within the courtroom with the intent of softening the international boundaries between science, law and investigation.

Dr. Houck and Ms. Funk have been invited to present the District’s vision of forensic science and how science should operate in conjunction with the law free from bias as the neutral arbiter of facts.

"That this meeting on forensic science is being held by the Royal Society is a landmark,” Director Houck said. “That the District's DFS was asked to participate is an immense honor and demonstrates how far we've come in a short period."

DFS officially began operations on October 1, 2012, with the opening of its state-of-the-art Consolidated Forensic Laboratory. It is the first forensic agency to be created independent of law enforcement based on the recommendation of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Among DFS’s major accomplishments:

  • assembling a team of world-class forensic scientists;
  • having its Forensic Science Laboratory approved for accreditation by meeting international standards for forensic operations within eight months of its opening;
  • its Public Health Laboratory was selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be a top-tier member of its Laboratory Response Network (LRN), joining 10 existing facilities nationwide as the front-line defense to respond to bioterrorism, chemical terrorism, and other public health emergencies.

“The District of Columbia was a leader in acting on the NAS recommendations regarding the need for independence in forensic science laboratories,” Ms. Funk said. “It is a privilege to be able to participate with policy leaders from around the globe to discuss the future of forensic science, and share the milestones we at DFS have achieved.”

The Royal Society is a learned society for science and is the oldest such society still in existence; it was founded in 1660. This event is the first meeting at the Royal Society to address the topic of forensic science.