Roger A. Mitchell, Jr., MD, ‘03
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
FBI forensic biologist. Doctor. Chief medical examiner. The resume of Roger A. Mitchell, Jr., MD reads like the stuff of movies and television crime dramas. You can also add part-time mystery thriller writer to the list! This 38-year-old alum oversees 1,500 autopsies as chief of the Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s office in Newark. The idea of his career path began 15 years ago when he got a job with the DNA Unit of the FBI as a forensic biologist technician right after college graduation from Howard University. The O.J. Simpson trial was on every television set at the time. “This seemed so interesting because I was manipulating DNA and performing tests similar to what was being described on TV.” Later on after med school, a fellowship in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City clinched his decision.
Board certified in anatomic and forensic pathology, Mitchell believes there is something to be learned from every death. Throughout his career, violence has been an undercurrent of his work and he speaks often to groups, telling audiences that he doesn’t want any of them to end up on his examination table. His office receives about 4,500 death calls a year and averages five autopsies a day so it’s difficult to ignore the fact that violence is reaching epidemic proportions, especially in certain communities, he says. “A disproportionate number of these cases occur in Newark, Trenton, Camden and Atlantic City.” He explains, “It’s novel for a medical examiner to want to be part of crime prevention but in the same way a cardiologist might want to be part of an anti-smoking or healthy lifestyle promotion, I think it’s my role to be involved. I like the fact that I can act as a resource for law enforcement and public health programs.”