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:

 

Gopalakrishna finds breastmilk antibody protects infants from deadly disease

UPMC - Kathyayini Gopalakrish...
Gopalakrishna finds breastmilk antibody protects infants from deadly disease

UPMC - Kathyayini Gopalakrishna (HUGEN '20) is first author on a study showing that an antibody in breastmilk is necessary to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis - an often deadly bacterial disease of the intestine - in preterm infants. The findings suggest that the antibody content of donor milk sho... (06/27/2019)

HUGEN's Lauren Winter melds genetic counseling and dental genetics

GC PROGRAM BLOG  -- Genetic c...
HUGEN's Lauren Winter melds genetic counseling and dental genetics

GC PROGRAM BLOG  -- Genetic counseling student Lauren Winter (HUGEN '20) shares her experiences investigating genetic, environmental, behavioral, and microbial contributions to the disproportionately high rate of dental cavities in children living in Appalachia. She loves the variety found in her j... (06/10/2019)

2019 Celebration of Student Awards

On April 27, 2019, Pitt Publi...
2019 Celebration of Student Awards

On April 27, 2019, Pitt Public Health celebrated recent graduates with awards given upon the culmination of a degree program. Delta Omega's honor society inductees were announced and outstanding thesis/essay and dissertation awards were conferred. Outstanding Student Awards were also given at both ... (04/29/2019)

Finegold talks about the importance of handling WES properly

MD ALERT via REUTERS - Whole ...
Finegold talks about the importance of handling WES properly

MD ALERT via REUTERS - Whole exome sequencing (WES) may identify genetic causes of idiopathic liver disease after an unrevealing conventional workup, researchers say. "WES is now broadly available in a wide range of genomics laboratories, both hospital-based and commercial. The interpretation of th... (04/25/2019)

HUGEN's Beth Roman receives 2019 Craig Teaching Award

Congratulations to HUGEN's Be...
HUGEN's Beth Roman receives 2019 Craig Teaching Award

Congratulations to HUGEN's Beth Roman on winning this year's award honoring faculty who have excelled in the teaching and mentoring of students. "Dr. Roman creates the best possible learning environment by making her classroom open to all questions, comments, and points of discussion. She actively ... (04/22/2019)