PerkinElmer and GW's Department of Forensics Sciences Enter into Research Collaboration

Victor Weedn, a pioneer of forensic DNA testing, is chair of the Department of Forensic Sciences.
Victor Weedn, a pioneer of forensic DNA testing, is chair of the Department of Forensic Sciences.
November 01, 2014

In March 2014, GW’s Department of Forensic Sciences and an American multinational technology corporation PerkinElmer Inc. signed a sponsored collaboration agreement to support forensic students, researchers and faculty members at GW.  As part of the agreement, PerkinElmer—which produces analytical instruments, genetic testing and diagnostic tools, and medical imaging components—will provide more than $750,000 to enable the Department to recruit and hire a new faculty member from the Drug Enforcement Administration skilled in mass spectrometry analysis. PerkinElmer also generously donated a mass spectrometer instrument to GW’s newly established Mass Spectrometry lab, now allowing GW to conduct research in the areas of toxicology, drug chemistries and trace evidence.   

“Collaboration like this is a prime example of how corporate- funded research is mutually beneficial to both parties,” says Tom Russo, Assistant Vice President for Industry and Corporate Research at GW. “GW’s forensics department gains new resources to improve its curriculum and expand research opportunities, and PerkinElmer will be able to explore the capabilities of its equipment and benefit from new forensic developments.”

 Led by Victor Weedn, MD, JD, an accomplished forensic pathologist and a pioneer of forensic DNA testing, GW’s Department of Forensic Sciences in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, is recognized as one of the oldest and most respected programs in the country.   Dr. Weedn said he desired to collaborate with a company that was producing some of the most innovative mass spectrometry tools on the market, in order to create a world-class forensic chemistry lab, develop more research and eventually recruit Ph.D. candidates. “There has been a revolution in mass spectrometry in the past few years, and I believe it is the future of forensic science investigation,” Dr. Weedn said. “PerkinElmer has created instruments that are very intriguing.”

The department acquired three of the newest and most robust mass spectrometry instruments PerkinElmer offers. As part of the agreement, the forensic science faculty will act as independent, credible partners to test the instruments and show how they are useful to the forensics community.

“PerkinElmer has developed a portfolio of mass spectrometry solutions that are designed to be faster, smarter, modular and easy to operate," said Jon DiVincenzo, PerkinElmer's president of Environmental Health. "We are thrilled to be GW’s collaborator of choice and believe that our combination of innovative technology and know-how in forensics can help Dr. Weedn and his team realize their goals for the forensic sciences program at GW."

Although there is more progress to be made, thanks in part to the new collaboration agreement, GW is on their way to developing cutting-edge forensics scholarship.