Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $145,369)
The Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner (ACOME) is a multi-disciplinary agency that functions as the morgue operations and the forensic laboratory for Allegheny County. The proliferation of overdose casework, specifically cases that include heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, continues to strain the resources for the ACOME. The number of new opioids found in casework samples has increased significantly over the last several years. The small differences in chemical structure but similar backbone, common in these designer opioids, have created issues with current laboratory methods. The proposed project will significantly improve the quality and timeliness of Forensic Controlled Substances analysis services provided by the ACOME. The ACOME proposes to acquire, validate and implement in casework a state-of-the-art GC/MS/FID in the Controlled Substances section and to have one staff scientist complete ABC Drug Analysis Certification. The impact of the proposed project directly supports comprehensive, real-time information collection, analysis, and dissemination. The instrumentation infrastructure proposed will allow the ACOME to quickly generate and disseminate drug analysis data. The proposed capacity enhancements will position Allegheny County to respond quickly and efficiently to substance abuse crises and drug epidemics.