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Human Genetics
human genetics

Human Genetics

How does DNA
Determine Someone's
Predisposition
to Disease?
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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.
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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:

 

First HUGEN chair John Mulvihill earns American Society of Human Genetics 2017 Mentorship Award

EDMOND SUN - The American Soci...
First HUGEN chair John Mulvihill earns American Society of Human Genetics 2017 Mentorship Award

EDMOND SUN - The American Society of Human Genetics has given its 2017 Mentorship Award to JOHN J. MULVIHILL, first chair of Pitt Public Health's Department of Human Genetics and co-director of the Pittsburgh Genetics Institute until 1998. (07/20/2017)

Nicholls one of many new citizens that makes Pitt great

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In t...
Nicholls one of many new citizens that makes Pitt great

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In the Heinz History Center’s Great Hall, Senior Judge D. Michael Fisher recently administered the oath of allegiance to immigrants as they stood before a U.S. flag. Human genetics researcher ROBERT NICHOLLS was there. “I grew up in Australia and finished my undergraduate w... (06/30/2017)

Dorman receives nursing Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award

It was announced today that al...
Dorman receives nursing Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award

It was announced today that alumna JANICE SCULLY DORMAN (HUGEN ’81, EPI ’83) is the recipient of the Pitt School of Nursing 2017 Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award for tenured faculty. Dorman has taught classes at that school (and at Pitt Public Health) for 30 years, focusing primarily on molecular... (06/26/2017)

Cut off: A bereft nervous system may eat away at the will to live

PITTMED MAGAZINE - Someone onc...
Cut off: A bereft nervous system may eat away at the will to live

PITTMED MAGAZINE - Someone once told Eve, a teen with severe intractable depression, "You just aren’t working hard enough in therapy." And then her doctor, HuGen’s LISA PAN—along with fellow Human Genetics faculty member DAVID FINEGOLD—learned that she can’t seem to make critical neurotransmitters. ... (06/20/2017)

Human genetics research to understand craniofacial birth defects

A facial shape genetics paper ...
Human genetics research to understand craniofacial birth defects

A facial shape genetics paper from a research team including HUGEN's JOHN SHAFFER, ELEANOR FEINGOLD, and student EKATERINA ORLOVA, was among the top 50 most downloaded "PLoS Genetics" open-access journal papers in 2016. (05/30/2017)
© 2017 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

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