Forensic Toxicology Program

College of Pharmacy

About the M.S. Forensic Toxicology Program


UIC offers a unique opportunity for accomplished students with strong undergraduate training in chemistry and the basic sciences to earn a Master of Science degree in forensic toxicology. The program is located in the College of Pharmacy, an environment of well-developed scientific infrastructure, research orientation, and significant expertise in toxicology and drug chemistry. Within the College, there are four Ph.D. programs in addition to the M.S. program in forensic toxicology and M.S. in forensic sciences.  

We are also positioned to take maximal advantage of the proximity of the other health care related and professional colleges. UIC's program has established and enjoys cooperative relationships with the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Command (especially the Forensic Science Center at Chicago). The Illinois State Police Forensic Science Center at Chicago (and the Cook County medical examiner's facility) are located within a few blocks of the UIC West campus. Along with ISP, and other agencies such as DEA and IRS who maintain laboratories in Chicago, we work together to make this Chicago consortium a major, national education, research and training center in forensic toxicology and forensic science in general. The UIC Forensic Science Group additionally operates an animal forensic toxicology laboratory located close to the UIC West campus. This laboratory conducts post-race drug testing on the winning race horses from all tracks in Illinois according to rules and guidelines established by the Illinois Racing Board.

 The University of Illinois at Chicago is a comprehensive public university, and is one of the three campuses of the University of Illinois (the others are at Urbana-Champaign and Springfield). UIC is the largest institution of higher education in the Chicago area, and is dedicated to the land grant university tradition of research, teaching and public service. UIC offers over 90 undergraduate, over 90 masters, and 52 doctoral programs through its 14 academic colleges and professional schools. UIC was formed in 1982 by the merger of the two campuses formerly known as the University of Illinois at the Medical Center and the University of Illinois - Chicago Circle Campus. Today, UIC has an enrollment of around 25,000, including over 8,000 graduate and professional students. The campus has about 80 buildings occupying over 185 acres about a mile from Chicago's Loop. UIC is one of a select group of institutions classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a Research I University. The College of Pharmacy, which houses the Forensic Toxicology Program, was founded in 1859, and became part of the University of Illinois in 1897. The M.S. program in forensic toxicology is new but it was built on the reputation and tradition of the forensic science program which was called "criminalistics" for much of its history, and it was originally located in the Department of Criminal Justice. Since 1991, the program has been in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences of the College of Pharmacy.

Our American system of law and justice is based upon the faith and confidence of citizens that justice is the end result of the operations of the civil and criminal justice systems. If this confidence is ever lost, it would be difficult for our free, democratic form of government to survive. It is essential, therefore, that scientific and technical knowledge be employed wherever possible in the search for truth in criminal, civil, regulatory and social-behavioral situations which involve the rule of law. One of the most important contributions of the forensic sciences is in helping to insure that justice is done, and thereby helping to maintain confidence of the citizenry in the justice system. It can also sometimes help to restore that confidence in situations where there have been real or apparent miscarriages of justice.

Forensic toxicology is the application of toxicology to cases where the adverse effects of drugs, poisons, and other xenobiotics have medico-legal consequences and the results are likely to be used in court. Forensic toxicology is based on published and widely accepted scientific methods and practices of analysis of drugs in biological materials, and interpretation of those results (The Forensic Toxicology Council). The main areas of forensic toxicology include: Postmorem toxicology (contribution of alcohol, drugs, and poisons to death by identifying and quantitating these compounds in postmortem specimens using state-of-the-art instrumentation), human performance testing (effects of alcohol and drugs on human performance and behavior), doping control (human, animal), and forensic urine drug testing (drug free workplace). According to the Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., forensic toxicologists are those scientists engaged in the analysis of biological fluids and tissues for drugs and/or poisons and who interpret the information generated from these analyses in a judicial context. The forensic toxicology program at UIC is designed to provide graduate education and advanced training for men and women who plan to seek careers in forensic toxicology. The program provides solid preparation for employment in the nation's public or private laboratories doing forensic toxicology work. The program can also provide suitable preparation for doctoral-level study.