Uncovering mysteries and improving forensic medicine

By Sally Crocker

Magdalena Bus and Bruce Budowle

Over the years, Bruce Budowle, PhD, has been recognized in various ways for his lifelong dedication to uncovering mysteries, bringing long-sought answers to families and communities, and developing novel ways to improve the science behind forensic medicine.

After spending 26 years with the FBI, he joined the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC), becoming one of the most published faculty members and helping to transform the HSC Center for Human Identification (CHI) into one of the world’s preeminent forensic laboratories. CHI contributes to investigations to identify missing persons and clear sexual assault and criminal case backlogs within Texas. The Center also processes DNA and missing persons profiles for the U.S crime-solving >CODIS national DNA database and collaborates with scientists from around the world on related studies.

In recognition of his extensive body of work throughout an esteemed career, and the international impact of that work on others, Dr. Budowle was awarded with a rare academic distinction by the UNT System Board of Regents in 2021 when he was named as Regents Professor.

This award represents one of the highest levels of recognition at HSC for outstanding teaching, research and service to the profession.

Dr. Budowle serves as CHI Executive Director and Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics at the HSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. His efforts focus on the areas of human forensic identification, microbial forensics and emerging infectious disease, with substantial emphasis in genomics and next generation sequencing.

He is a Commissioner on the Texas Forensic Science Commission and a member of the Texas Governor’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Task Force.

He was one of the original architects of CODIS and has been directly involved in developing quality assurance (QA) standards for the forensic DNA field, and has also served as Chair of the Scientific Working Group on DNA Methods, Chair of the DNA Commission of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, and as a member of the DNA Advisory Board established by Congress in the 1990s.

Dr. Budowle’s efforts over the last two decades also have focused on counter-terrorism, specifically involving microbial forensics and bioterrorism. He was directly involved in the scientific aspects of the 2001 U.S. anthrax letters investigation and was one of the architects of the field of microbial forensics.

He has published more than 700 articles, made more than 800 presentations (many of which were as an invited speaker at national and international meetings), and testified in well over 300 criminal cases in the areas of molecular biology, population genetics, statistics, quality assurance and forensic biology. He has also authored or co-authored books on molecular biology techniques, electrophoresis, protein detection, forensic genetics and microbial forensics.

Dr. Budowle was named as an HSC Hero in 2020 for his commitment to forensic science, crime victims and countless families with missing loved ones, as well as his dedication to training the next generation of forensic science leaders.

“This a great honor but none of it would have been possible without the support of HSC, and especially the efforts of the CHI team, who should be recognized for their great contributions and commitment to our cause,” he said in accepting the Regents Professor award.

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