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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, and who has taken analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry classes?
  • Do you have the support of your academic advisor?
  • Does an internship agreement exist between your college and the City of Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office?
  • If an internship agreement is in place, application deadlines are:
    • Summer Internships: March 15
    • Fall Internships: July 31
    • Spring Internships: Nov 30
  •  If an agreement is not in place, you must provide the email address for the professor to whom agreement information should be send. These agreements usually take at least four months to complete, and no student will be permitted to apply for an internship until the agreement is completely signed by both the school and the City. Application deadlines listed above still apply, and the agreement must be completely signed before the student can send in an application.
  • To request consideration for an internship, the student should send his/her unofficial transcript and cover letter to This should be followed by a letter of recommendation from the student's academic advisor, on official college letterhead, sent to the same email address. Once this is all received and you are determined to be qualified for an internship, an official application will be sent.
  • Internship information
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.