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Victor Weedn, a Pioneer of Forensic DNA Testing, to Chair GW’s Department of Forensic Sciences

May 22, 2012

Latarsha Gatlin
202-994-5631; [email protected]

WASHINGTON—Victor Weedn, M.D., J.D., accomplished forensic pathologist and a pioneer of forensic DNA testing, has been named chair of the George Washington University Department of Forensic Sciences, effective July 1, 2012.

As the founder and former chief of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL), Dr. Weedn was instrumental in helping to identify the remains of Czar Nicolas II and service members who died in the first Persian Gulf War and the Vietnam, Korean, and WWII wars. Under his leadership, AFDIL broke new ground with the use of forensic technologies, such as laser-induced fluorescence, and oversaw the development of the first truly portable DNA testing device that later became the basis for current U.S. Postal Service anthrax detection equipment. He also successfully spearheaded an effort to create a consolidated genetics program within the Department of Defense and helped developed a position paper on genetic privacy for the College of American Pathologists, later testifying before the U.S. Congress on genetic privacy issues. 

Dr. Weedn comes to GW from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore, where he served as an Assistant Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland.

“The opportunity to be part of one of the oldest and strongest forensic science departments in the United States—and one that boasts a very significant alumni base—is very exciting,” said Dr. Weedn. “GW is well known for its proximity to and relations with the federal forensic laboratories and investigatory agencies, and associated part-time faculty. I hope to further build upon the university’s excellent existing programs and increase the program’s research efforts and collaborations within the community.”

Dr. Weedn, who assisted with the development of molecular pathology standards for clinical laboratories, continues to be involved in proficiency testing of DNA laboratories. His professional background includes positions as research scientist and professor, with various university appointments in medicine, law, science, public policy, engineering, and forensic science. He is a patent holder and has helped launch several companies. In addition, he has held significant leadership positions within the forensic science community and is currently treasurer of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and chair of strategic planning for the National Association of Medical Examiners. He has authored nearly 50 articles for peer-reviewed journals and 35 chapters for books on forensic pathology, molecular pathology, and other topics.

Dr. Weedn received his M.D. from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and his J.D. from South Texas College of Law in Houston, both by the age of 25. His training includes pathology residency training at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School and an anatomic pathology fellowship at the M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute.

GW’s Department of Forensic Sciences, created in 1968 within the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, offers graduate degrees in forensic chemistry, molecular biology and toxicology, as well as high tech crime investigation and crime scene investigation. Students learn from forensic scholars and practicing professionals, including law enforcement personnel, medical examiners, crime scene investigators, lawyers, computer forensics and information security professionals.

“We could not be more pleased that Dr. Weedn has agreed to lead our Department of Forensic Sciences,” said Peg Barratt, dean of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. “He brings impeccable academic credentials and a broad range of experience to the position. I am confident that our degree programs within forensic sciences and the department’s research capacity to develop the forensic science techniques of the future will remain among the best in the world under his guidance.”

Established in 1821 in the heart of the nation’s capital, The George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is the largest of GW’s academic units. It encompasses the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and more than 40 departments and programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional studies. The Columbian College provides the foundation for GW’s commitment to the liberal arts and a broad education for all students. An internationally recognized faculty and active partnerships with prestigious research institutions place Columbian College at the forefront in advancing policy, enhancing culture and transforming lives through research and discovery.


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