LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has partnered with the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to offer a one-year fellowship in forensic pathology, starting July 1, 2024.
The fully accredited fellowship program, recently approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), is open to physicians who have completed a residency program in anatomic or anatomic/clinical pathology and who are board-certified or board-eligible.
Theodore Brown, M.D., an associate professor of pathology at UAMS and the state’s chief medical examiner, said the partnership offers an opportunity to complete autopsies at a high volume by collaborating with coroners in all of the state’s 75 counties.
“Fellows will work alongside seven forensic pathologists, including a board-certified neuropathologist,” said Brown, who is also the director of the fellowship program. “The medical examiner section of the Crime Lab is equipped with five autopsy stations, along with in-house full body radiology, histology services, and access to anthropology and forensic odontology consultants.”
“We offer the whole spectrum of forensic sciences in one building,” Brown said, referring to criminalists and ballistics experts, as well as forensic toxicology services and subspecialty sections, which include CODIS (Combined DNA Index System used by the FBI), digital evidence, forensic chemistry, forensic DNA, latent prints, and physical evidence, all of which are housed in at 3 Natural Resources Drive in Little Rock.
The lab is expected to triple in size and relocate to Camp Robinson in North Little Rock by 2027, thanks to the Arkansas General Assembly’s approval in April of a revenue stabilization act that authorizes up to $200 million for the construction of a new headquarters. The new facility will occupy about 200,000 square feet, providing space for more experts in the field and cutting-edge technology.
“Our office continues to become more involved with other agencies across the state that are working to best understand deaths that occur in Arkansas and how we can work with our community partners to prevent future deaths in Arkansas,” Brown said. “We have a very important role to play.”
To that end, Brown said, he is looking for fellowship candidates who not only have top pathology skills but will also become “an asset to the community they will serve.”
Teddi Tubre, M.D., an adjunct professor of pathology at UAMS, associate director of the fellowship program, and associate medical examiner and neuropathologist at the Crime Lab, said one way the Crime Lab hopes to prevent deaths in the community is by staying on top of trends in the use of novel illicit substances, including fentanyl and its analogues.
Being able to document current information about the types of drugs and their use in our communities is just one example of increasing communication among first responders, medical personnel, and community stakeholders to better serve Arkansan’s as a whole, she said.
Brown said another way forensic pathologists help the community is by being a part of review teams that seek to understand maternal and child deaths in Arkansas, serving to provide education to help prevent such deaths.
Forensic pathologists at the Crime Lab are involved in the medicolegal investigation of deaths that are sudden and/or unexpected, including natural causes, deaths by violent or traumatic means, or where circumstances surrounding the death indicate the presence of drugs or alcohol.
Brown said Arkansas’ diverse landscape keeps forensic pathologists at the Crime Lab especially busy, noting the state’s numerous lakes and rivers where drownings occur, its extreme temperatures, its plethora of rural areas where farming accidents are more common, and its areas with a propensity of violent crime.
The fellow’s duties will include completing high quality forensic autopsies so that Arkansans are provided expert opinions as to the cause and manner of death. Furthermore, fellows will have opportunities to investigate deaths at the death scene alongside coroners, teach medical students and residents, participate in state multiagency death review meetings, conduct research, and present at national forensic pathology conferences. Brown said the fellowship is designed to provide the confidence and expertise to be a leader in medicolegal death investigation and forensic pathology autopsy services, “whether it be in an academic, government or private practice setting.”
“Upon completion of their training, our graduates will have received the skillset to be leaders in forensic pathology, not only in the jurisdiction they serve, but also at a national level,” he said.
The fellowship program is now accepting applications for the 2024–25 academic year. There is currently no application deadline, but interested applicants should contact Brown at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tubre at email@example.com.