Collaborative Efforts in Toxicology to Attain Justice for All

Source: Amanda L.A. Mohr, MSFS, Section Chair; Diane Moore, PhD, Section Secretary; Dayong Lee, PhD, Section Program Chair; Erin Karschner, PhD, Section Program Co-Chair
Justice Talks

The theme of the 2024 conference, "Justice For All," is a mission that promotes conscientious and persistent efforts throughout the different disciplines of forensic science. In the field of forensic toxicology, those with different backgrounds and levels of experience engage in promoting standardization, establishing best practices, fostering collaboration and professional development, and advancing scientific knowledge and awareness. These activities collectively contribute to providing quality and unbiased forensic toxicology services to everyone. While we recognize the long road to attain equitable justice, we would like to acknowledge collaborative efforts of forensic toxicologists in moving us closer toward this achievable goal.                

The AAFS Standards Board (ASB), part of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, is an ANSI-accredited Standards Development Organization that provides standardization of forensic practices through a publicly transparent process. Consensus Bodies, each from a separate discipline, are tasked with developing consensus-based standards and best practices. The Toxicology Consensus Body has worked tirelessly to establish standards for breath alcohol instrument calibration, mass spectral analysis, identification criteria, quality control programs, minimum content requirements of analytical procedures, proficiency testing, measurement traceability, method validation, report content, and the analysis scope and sensitivity for forensic toxicological testing. Additionally, guidelines for opinions and testimony and best practices for specimen collection and preservation were developed. These documents will be beneficial to toxicology laboratories and forensic toxicology professionals throughout the field.   

The Regional Toxicology Liaison (RTL) Demonstration Project was established via a cooperative agreement between the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2021. The project aims to support publicly funded toxicology programs involved in drug-impaired driving investigations with training, collaboration, testing standardization, and data reporting. Over the last two years, the RTLs have assisted laboratories with method development and validation, provided testimony and other trainings, connected laboratories during supply chain shortages, and liaised with highway safety partners.

Continuing education, particularly virtual options, allows colleagues from across the world opportunities to expand their current knowledge base. Various organizations including AAFS, RTI International, the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE), SOFT, the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists, and the National Safety Council's Alcohol, Drugs and Impairment Division offer numerous continuing education opportunities throughout the year. Recent offerings included topics such as pharmacology and toxicology of xylazine, emerging topics in drug death certification, alcohol and traffic safety, roadside and laboratory oral fluid testing, and cannabinoid conundrums. 


The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.