50 Heroes: Dr. Bruce Budowle

August 31, 2020

Bruce BudowleDr. Bruce Budowle has spent his career developing novel ways to improve forensic genetics analyses, solving mysteries and bringing answers to grieving families. 

After 26 years at the FBI, Dr. Budowle, the most published faculty member at HSC, has helped to transform The HSC Center for Human Identification (CHI) into one of the world’s preeminent forensic laboratories. The 70-person team uses forensic science and databases to solve crimes and other challenges, deter human trafficking and give crime victims and their families resolution. 

The laboratory is responsible for more than half of DNA profiles of the human remains or missing persons and family reference samples in the Combined DNA Index System database (CODIS), the FBI’s database program to support the use of DNA in criminal investigations. 

CHI assisted in identifying victims of serial killers John Wayne Gacy and The Green River Killer, and was among the first arrivals to ground zero after the 9/11 attacks.  

“People ask us all the time what’s the biggest case we’ve handled,” Dr. Budowle said. “We answer ‘All of them.’ Every missing person we’ve identified had a family, people who loved them; every rape victim had a life torn apart. Every person we identify is a big success to us and to all the victims and their families.” 

Under Dr. Budowle’s leadership, CHI has become a leading forensic resource not just for U.S. law enforcement agencies but for law enforcement around the world. Recently, CHI has implemented a novel humanitarian DNA Identification database to identify smuggled and trafficked victims from Mexico and Central America who die crossing the border into the U.S. 

Dr. Budowle also trains the next generation of forensic science leaders. CHI has an innovative research laboratory where students have a unique opportunity to learn about cutting-edge forensic genomics, pharmacogenomics, and bioinformatics.  

For his commitment to HSC, forensic science, crime victims and countless families with missing loved onesDr. Budowle is a Hero.


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Honor your HSC hero today! Please make a tribute gift, submit a photo or share a story that you value.

Join us throughout 2020 as we celebrate the people, events and innovations that made UNTHSC all it is today — and look ahead to the next 50 years.

For the 50th anniversary, team members nominated people whose contributions make them HSC Heroes. Each week, a new Hero will be revealed.

View the list of all our Hero profiles published so far this year. There is a new one each week.

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