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Medical Examiner's Office

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Toxicology Laboratory

The toxicology laboratory serves the City of Philadelphia by providing analyses of postmortem specimens for drugs of abuse, prescription drugs and poisons. The lab is responsible for analytical testing, specimen and record maintenance, and interpretation of analytical testing results on over 2,000 cases each year. The staff, which consists of a toxicologist, five chemists, and a technician, uses state of the art instrumentation to perform nearly 20,000 analyses each year.

Data collected by the toxicology lab helps our pathologists determine cause and manner of death on many cases; it is also used by other City agencies and the Drug Enforcement Agency to track trends in drug abuse and to direct City resources to areas of the city that most need them.

The toxicology laboratory keeps samples suitable for DNA testing for a period of at least one year after the date of death. For many cases additional samples are kept for several years. Learn more about DNA samples and requirements.

If you still have questions, or to inform the lab that you need a DNA sample held for longer than a year, please contact us at 215-685-7460.

  • Are you a chemistry or biology major who has completed your sophomore year?
  • Have you completed courses in analytical chemistry and organic chemistry?
  • Have you contacted your academic advisor or department chair to see if there is an existing contract between your school and the City? If there is not a contract in place, you must say so on your questionnaire.
  • If you answered "yes" to each of these three questions, apply by filling out the questionnaire below and sending it along with a copy of your transcript (unofficial copy is acceptable) and a letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or department chair. Submission instructions are included in the questionnaire document. Incomplete applications will not be processed.
  • Internship information
  • Intern questionnaire
Did you know…in an average year, there are more deaths attributable to drugs in the City of Philadelphia than are attributable to homicidal violence.