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Human Genetics
human genetics

Human Genetics

How does DNA
Determine Someone's
Predisposition
to Disease?
Learn more
our research centers

Our Research Centers

Get involved in our research centers, where you can join a research project or help translate findings into practice and policy.
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Our Faculty

Our Faculty

Meet the faculty who will teach and mentor you, and learn about the innovative research projects they're directing.
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Our Alumni

Our Alumni

Read about what our graduates are doing in the human genetics field.
Meet our alumni

Human Genetics Graduate Programs

Human genetics is the study of how genes influence human traits, diseases, and behaviors, including how genetic and non-genetic factors interact. Public health genetics applies advances in human genetics and genomics to improve public health and prevent disease. Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to patients dealing with birth defects or genetic disorders and those who may be at risk for inherited conditions.

The Department of Human Genetics is dedicated to genetics graduate programs which focus on research, teaching, and service, and embrace three major research missions:
  • Investigating the genetic causes and treatment of hereditary and acquired human illness
  • Understanding and exploring the impact of genetics on public health, education, and disease prevention
  • Appreciating the role of genetic diversity within human populations

The program emphasizes the study of genetic mechanisms related to the transition from normal to disease states, and studies how genes and the environment interact to affect the distribution of health and disease in human populations.

Find a research program for your interests

Human genetics research has helped answer fundamental questions about human nature and led to the development of effective treatments for many diseases that greatly impact human health. Faculty in the Department of Human Genetics have developed and used genetic methods to investigate the causes and treatment of hereditary and acquired human illness and to understand and explore the impact of genetics on public health, education, and disease prevention.

Pitt Public Health human genetics faculty and students currently are involved in varied research projects, including...
  • Finding genes that are risk factors for aging and age-related macular degeneration, and neurological and extracellular matrix disorders
  • Studying the genetics of obesity and muscle development, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Identify genes responsible for primary (or inherited) lymphedema, also known as Milroy's and Meige's Disease
  • Studying a group of disorders with the shared trait of cutis laxa, a disease of prematurely loose, redundant, inelastic, and wrinkled skin
  • Researching the genetic basis of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and lupus
  • Developing and implementing state-of-the-art statistical methods for gene mapping and bioinformatics, especially next-generation sequencing
  • Studying genetic mechanisms underlying various cancers
  • Studying the influence of family health histories on risk perception
  • Exploring individuals’ experiences of facing genetic risk

Pursue a career in human genetics

Graduates of Pitt Public Health’s human genetics program typically go on to positions in academia or in industry and usually are employed by their graduation dates. Alumni currently are working in clinical and research firms, including...
  • Associate professor, operations director, and senior lab director, Emory Genetics Laboratory
  • Staff, Labeling and Consumer Protection Division, USDA
  • Research manager, Harris Interactive
  • Clinical genetic counselor, Kaiser
  • Associate director, Northwestern University Genetic Counseling Program

Degrees

The Department of Human Genetics offers three master’s level programs, and two doctoral programs:

 

Pitt Public Health launches life sciences business accelerator

POST-GAZETTE - Serial entrepr...
Pitt Public Health launches life sciences business accelerator

POST-GAZETTE - Serial entrepreneur and human genetics chair DIETRICH STEPHAN will serve as CEO of Pitt's new business accelerator, backing a push to leverage Western PA’s strengths in the life sciences with private investors. The 10-year goal is to tackle prevalent and intractable global diseases. ... (12/11/2017)

Shaffer: Everything your biology teacher told you about earlobes is wrong

POPULAR SCIENCE - Geneticists ...
Shaffer: Everything your biology teacher told you about earlobes is wrong

POPULAR SCIENCE - Geneticists often don’t like to perform population studies at such scale because they are too large to zoom in on any specific details. But that means that we might not be getting the full picture. Research by JOHN SHAFFER, ELEANOR FEINGOLD, and SETH WEINBERG tells us that there’s ... (12/01/2017)

Parker on whether genome sequencing should be part of a normal health screening?

MIMS TODAY - “Treatability may...
Parker on whether genome sequencing should be part of a normal health screening?

MIMS TODAY - “Treatability may not be the only consideration people have regarding such information,” says LISA PARKER, a HUGEN researcher who directs Pitt’s Centre for Bioethics and Health Law. (11/05/2017)

Human genetics reception in Orlando

Alumni, faculty, students, and...
Human genetics reception in Orlando

Alumni, faculty, students, and friends of the Department of Human Genetics got together in Orlando, Florida, during the November 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). It was a great reception, offering opportunities to catch up on careers, research, and school news. V... (10/21/2017)

Researchers awarded $1.7 million to study the genetics of human facial features

JOHN SHAFFER, assistant profes...
Researchers awarded $1.7 million to study the genetics of human facial features

JOHN SHAFFER, assistant professor in the Department of Human Genetics at Pitt Public Health, and Seth Weinberg, an associate professor in the Department of Oral Biology at the School of Dental Medicine, received a grant award of $1.7 million from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Res... (10/11/2017)
© 2017 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

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