Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $250,000)
The Hamilton County Coroner’s Crime Laboratory drug chemistry section serves local and federal law enforcement through the analysis and identification of controlled and non-controlled substances amid continued reduced funding from the Hamilton County budget. With dynamic drug trends and the continuing opioid epidemic, the laboratory struggles with the efficient identification of new and emerging compounds as well as the accurate identification of the stereo isomers of controlled substances. The lack of updated instrumentation to analyze cases containing complex matrices, new emerging compounds, and isomers increases the overall turnaround time of those cases. Turn around time is compromised due to the need for additional research and the procurement and verification of new drug standards.
The funds provided by the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program will be used to improve the services provided by the drug chemistry section of the Hamilton County Coroner’s Crime Laboratory. Specifically, the drug chemistry section will purchase a liquid chromatograph tandom mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) to address emerging drug trends in combination with the continuing opioid epidemic. The addition of new instrumentation will allow existing staff to implement new methodology for the analysis and identification of stereo isomers of compounds, emerging novel psychoactive substances (NPS's), emerging fentanyl analogs, large compounds such as steroids, and assist in the separation of complex sample matrices. Additional funds from the grant will be allocated to train laboratory staff for the use of the LC-MS/MS and purchase supplies for its use and maintenance.
The outcome of this project will improve the turnaround time of cases containing emerging compounds, NPS’s, and fentanyl analogs, address the regional need for methamphetamine quantitation, and increase customer satisfaction through accurate reporting. Drug chemistry cases affecting the region will be completed quickly and comprehensively using the improved sensitivity and detection capabilities of the desired LC-MS/MS system.