Chief Medical Examiner

Luis Arturo Sanchez, M.D.

Executive Director & Chief Medical Examiner


Luis Arturo Sanchez, M.D. was appointed Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County effective January 1, 2003. On March 9, 2013, Harris County Commissioners Court approved his title being changed to Executive Director & Chief Medical Examiner to reflect his expanded role of directing the operation of both the Medical Examiner and Crime Laboratory services for Harris County.

As Executive Director of the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (HCIFS), Dr. Sanchez oversees the day-to-day operations of the department including interagency relationships, finance and administration, investigations, autopsy services, the anthropology division, emergency management, quality management, and the crime laboratory disciplines.

Dr. Sanchez encourages scientific and academic growth at the Institute of Forensic Sciences and has facilitated various improvements that have made the Institute one of the nation’s leading forensic agencies.

Achievements at the Institute

During Dr. Sanchez's tenure, the Institute has made unprecedented strides in its effort to keep pace with changing technologies and increasing service demands. Originally named the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, in March 2010, the name was officially changed to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences to reflect the vast range of services provided by the fully accredited and advanced forensic center.

The accomplishments achieved under the direction of Dr. Sanchez include the following

  • Achieved accreditation by the National Association of Medical Examiners, American Board of Forensic Toxicology, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Texas Forensic Science Commission, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Texas Medical Association of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, re-accreditation by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), accreditation under the ASCLD/LAB-International ISO 17025 standards, and the first in the nation to have a Forensic Anthropology Division accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board – Click here to learn more
  • Increased capacity to meet needs by obtaining more than $20 million of new funding and a 151 percent increase in medical, laboratory, and clerical personnel
  • Created the Anthropology Division, Entomology Division, Family Assistance Unit, Forensic Emergency Management Division, Forensic Nursing Program, Graphic Design section of Forensic Imaging, Neuropathology Division, and Public Outreach Division
  • Expanded the Investigations Division and the Forensic Genetics Laboratory, and assumed command of the Firearms Laboratory operations previously under the purview of the Sheriff’s Office
  • Expanded and developed fellowship programs in Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Genetics, Forensic Pathology, and Forensic Toxicology
  • Developed unique learning opportunities for visiting students, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and doctors
  • Relocated the expanding Forensic Genetics Laboratory to an advanced, 15,000 sq. foot space in the John P. McGovern campus of the Texas Medical Center
  • Oversaw the construction of a new, state-of-the-art, 9-story, 207,732 gross square foot facility, which was completed in early 2017. This new forensic center allows IFS to continue to expand capabilities for advanced forensic services and educational opportunities to meet the needs of Harris County and regional affiliates


Dr. Sanchez received his M.D. from The University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1988. From 1989 through 1992, Dr. Sanchez specialized in anatomic pathology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He then went on to complete a one-year fellowship in forensic pathology at the Dade County Medical Examiner's Office in Miami, Florida. Dr. Sanchez is certified by the American Board of Pathology in both Anatomic and Forensic Pathology.


Dr. Sanchez is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the National Association of Medical Examiners, Southern Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, and the Harris County Medical Society.


In 1988 after graduation from medical school, he established the position of the HIV program coordinator for the Department of Pediatrics/Pediatric Immunology of The University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Coordinating with the Worcester Department of Public Health, he was responsible for the implementation of a comprehensive AIDS risk-prevention program targeted at the Hispanic community.

Dr. Sanchez served as a deputy medical examiner for the District of Columbia for six and a half years and served as the Acting Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia in 1998. During his tenure, Dr. Sanchez was a frequent lecturer at the Department of Criminal Investigation Homicide School of the Metropolitan Police Department. Additionally, he was the liaison to the United States Attorney's Office from 1994 until 1998.

Dr. Sanchez joined the HCIFS staff in June 2001 as the Senior Deputy Chief Medical Examiner with more than 10 years of hands-on experience and expertise in forensic pathology. In October 2002, he became the Interim Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County and was appointed Chief Medical Examiner by unanimous vote of Harris County Commissioners Court effective January 1, 2003.

Since 1995 Dr. Sanchez has been an active consultant in forensic medicine for the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) under the aegis of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. As an ICITAP instructor, Dr. Sanchez has taught all aspects of forensic medicine including the on-scene role of the medical examiner to police officers, doctors, and lawyers in programs he designed and implemented in emerging democracies throughout the world. During Dr. Sanchez's participation, these programs have become integral to the ongoing development of viable medicolegal systems throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, Central Asia (Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) and East Africa.

Academic Appointments

Dr. Sanchez has been an active educator of medical residents and fellows throughout his career and currently oversees the many educational opportunities for residents, fellows, and interns at the Institute of Forensic Sciences. In addition, he is a dedicated educator in the Houston medical community.

Dr. Sanchez holds the following academic appointments:

  • Endowed Professorship in Forensic Pathology and Clinical Assistant Professor with the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Senior Affiliate Member at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (Houston)
  • Clinical Associate Professor with the Department of Pathology at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston)
  • Distinguished Lecturer of Forensic Science at South Texas College of Law (Houston)
  • Staff Pathologist at Ben Taub General Hospital and the Harris County Hospital District (Houston)