Faculty/Staff/Student Directory



David Gangitano

Associate Professor

  • Ph.D. Toxicology and Forensic Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (2004)
  • B.S. Chemistry, School of Natural Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (1992)


Office: CFS-221C
Phone: (936) 294-4413

Areas of Expertise:
Forensic Biology, Statistical Genetics, Crime Scene Investigation


Dr. David Gangitano is an Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University. He is a forensic geneticist with extensive experience in forensic molecular biology and analytical biological chemistry. Before joining SHSU, he was a research associate and adjunct faculty member at the Neuroscience Department and the Scott Department of Urology, respectively, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He worked as a forensic chemist and forensic geneticist with the Federal Police/Atomic Energy Commission in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Argentina, Dr. Gangitano served as a crime scene investigator and a forensic chemist, assisting with the serology of biological evidence (identification of biological fluids, hair analysis, reconstruction of blood groups and isoenzyme analysis), the identification of controlled substance, arson analysis, paint evidence analysis and crime scene investigation. As a forensic biologist he set up the first Forensic Biology Unit in Argentina. He is a founding member of GITAD (Iberoamerican Working Group in DNA Analysis). His current research includes: rapid PCR analysis, forensic molecular botany, behavioral genetics, molecular entomology and the development of molecular tools for human identification in mass disaster investigation with Dr. Hughes-Stamm.

Research Interests:

Dr. Gangitano's research interests include a variety of topics that ranges from innovative technologies applied to human identification to forensic botany and behavioral genetics.

Dr. Gangitano served as a forensic scientist in the Argentinian Federal Police during 10 years where he worked as a crime scene investigator, forensic geneticist and forensic chemist for a federal crime laboratory. He holds a PhD in Forensic Genetics from the University of Buenos Aires (2004) and his post-doctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine (Department of Neuroscience and Scott Department of Urology) includes basic research on nicotine addiction, nicotinic receptors, behavior, anxiety and gender in mutant mice and neuro-urology.

Dr. Gangitano is also involved in a research joint project with Dr. Todd Armstrong and Dr. Danielle Boisvert (Dept. of Criminal Justice and Criminology) to investigate different DNA polymorphisms in genes involved in dopamine turnover (e.g., monoamino oxidase A) and serotonin and their relationship with aggressive and criminal behavior. This research group also developed a graduate course of Behavioral Genetics. Their current research (including MS and PhD students from both Departments) is focused on the investigation of genetic polymorphisms in genes of enzymes related to dopamine and serotonin turnover and oxytocin and aggressive behavior and drug addiction.

Another interest of Dr. Gangitano is forensic botany. Several years ago, he started a research project to investigate the potential application of pollen DNA in forensic investigations. Actually, he is conducting applied research to develop molecular systems capable of being used for genetic identification of Cannabis sativa (marijuana). MS and PhD students are currently developing different methods (including nuclear, mitochondrial and plastid DNA) for marijuana genetic identification and determination of biogeographical origin. Dr. Gangitano also works in a joint research project with the Police of Chile and the Catholic University of Temuco (Chile) in order to develop molecular tools to investigate the application of plant DNA barcoding in forensic scenarios. He is also working in another joint project with the University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) in the development of a global database of cannabis DNA.

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