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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:

 

Biost joins Hugen in Staff Volunteer and Team Building Day

HUGEN staff joined BIOST for ...
Biost joins Hugen in Staff Volunteer and Team Building Day

HUGEN staff joined BIOST for their Staff Volunteer and Team Building Day, visiting Global Links to sort medical supplies for distribution in resource-poor communities. Afterwards, they switched gears at Lumberjaxes in Mount Lebanon, where they showed off their axe-throwing skills (Joe Germanoski wa... (01/14/2019)

D'Annibale receives travel award from the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders

The SIMD Travel Award is give...
D'Annibale receives travel award from the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders

The SIMD Travel Award is given to trainees and graduate students in the field of metabolic disorders based on submitted abstracts.  HUGEN's Olivia D'Annibale is a recent recipient of the award. Her research shows an increase in protein and enzyme activity of isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase (IVD) which... (12/04/2018)

Vanyukov interprets new study findings and their relationship to the gateway drug theory

THE ATLANTIC - With adolescen...
Vanyukov interprets new study findings and their relationship to the gateway drug theory

THE ATLANTIC - With adolescent marijuana use stagnant and alcohol and cigarette use delayed and declining among minors, it might be time to leave the popular understanding of the gateway drug in the past. “Gateway theory only relates to initiation of drug use, not progression to abuse," says HUGEN'... (11/30/2018)

Gollin joins Jewish Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees

Congratulations to HUGEN's SU...
Gollin joins Jewish Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees

Congratulations to HUGEN's SUSANNE GOLLIN for being invited to join the Jewish Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees next year. They are meeting next month to explore the question: "What are the appropriate roles, the responsible mandates and interventions, of healthcare governing boards in guara... (11/05/2018)

Parker comments on new study that shows downside of medical crowdfunding

REUTERS - While crowdfunding ...
Parker comments on new study that shows downside of medical crowdfunding

REUTERS - While crowdfunding platforms can fill insurance gaps, helping patients pay for essential care and avoid medical debt, they are also being used to raise large sums of money for ineffective and experimental treatments, a new study suggests. The study muddies the issue by mixing clearly unpr... (10/24/2018)

 

Thu
2/21
Human Genetics Lecture
Racial Reconciliation, Institutional Morality, and the Social Life of DNA - Alondra Nelson, Columbia Human Genetics Lecture
Racial Reconciliation, Institutional Morality, and the Social Life of DNA - Alondra Nelson, Columbia
Thu 2/21 5:00PM - 8:00PM
University Club - Ballroom A

Alondra Nelson examines the recent use of genetic ancestry testing by the descendants of nearly three hundred enslaved men and women owned by Georgetown University, whom the institution’s Jesuit stewards sold to Southern plantations in 1838 in order to secure its solvency. The case of the GU 272 will be explored as a “reconciliation project”—a social endeavor in which DNA analysis is put to the use of repairing historic injury. 

Reception (5 p.m.) and lecture (6 p.m.) are jointly sponsored by the departments of Africana studies and human genetics and the Center for Bioethics & Health Law.

 

Fri
2/22
Human Genetics Seminar Series
TBD Human Genetics Seminar Series
TBD
Fri 2/22 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Public Health Lecture Hall (A115)

Fri
3/1
Human Genetics Seminar Series
TBD Human Genetics Seminar Series
TBD
Fri 3/1 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Public Health Lecture Hall (A115)

Fri
3/8
Human Genetics Seminar Series
Michael Pogue-Geile - Schizophrenia and Endophenotypes Human Genetics Seminar Series
Michael Pogue-Geile - Schizophrenia and Endophenotypes
Fri 3/8 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Public Health Lecture Hall (A115)

Fri
4/5
Human Genetics Seminar Series
Grand Rounds CC Li LectureGrand Rounds CC Li Lecture Human Genetics Seminar Series
CC Li Lecture
Fri 4/5 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Public Health Lecture Hall (A115)

The Department of Human Genetics holds an annual guest lecture in honor of former faculty member Ching Chun "C.C." Li, Pitt Public Health faculty for over 30 years, former chair of the Department of Biostatistics, and celebrated statistician and geneticist. Stay tuned for more information about this year's lecture. 

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