Human Genetics Graduate Programs

Human genetics is the study of how genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors, as well as their interactions, influence human traits, health, and disease. Public health genetics applies advances in human genetics and genomics to improve public health and prevent disease in diverse populations. Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to patients with genetic disorders and those at risk for inherited conditions.

The Department of Human Genetics is dedicated to graduate training in human genetics research (including molecular, statistical, and bioinformatics research), public health genetics, and genetic counseling.

The mission of the department is to

  • embrace the role of genetic, environmental, and behavioral diversity within human populations
  • discover new knowledge about the genetic and non-genetic determinants of human health and disease through basic and applied research
  • educate students, trainees, health professionals, and the public in that knowledge
  • apply that knowledge to improve the health of patients, families, and 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 vascular, neurological and extracellular matrix disorders
  • Studying the genetics of obesity and diabetes, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel 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, autoimmune disease, traumatic brain injury, oral health and craniofacial disorders
  • Developing and implementing state-of-the-art statistical and computational modeling methods for gene mapping and bioinformatics
  • Studying genetic mechanisms underlying various cancers and cancer treatment
  • Implementation of policies on public health genetics and cancer
  • Exploring the ethics of return of genetic results to individuals, their families and the public

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 academic, government, health care, and commercial sectors, including...

  • Associate professor, operations director, and senior lab director, Emory Genetics Laboratory
  • Medical Science Liaison, Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc
  • Medical policy analyst, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Project coordinator, Association of American Cancer Institutes
  • Technology commercialization manager, Life Science Innovations
  • Data coordinator, MacroGenics , Inc
  • Research manager, Harris Interactive
  • Clinical genetic counselor, Kaiser
  • Associate director, Northwestern University Genetic Counseling Program

Degrees

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

 

Liu's research on the genetics of facial shape wins award at major international conference

Dongjing Liu (HUGEN '20) won ...
Liu's research on the genetics of facial shape wins award at major international conference

Dongjing Liu (HUGEN '20) won the International Genetic Epidemiology Society's first place poster award for his poster titled "Transcriptome-wide association study of human facial shape identifies potential mediating genes", which he presented virtually at the IGES Annual Meeting, July 1 - 4, 2020. ... (11/17/2020)

Senter-Jamieson: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

Leigha Senter is a licensed g...
Senter-Jamieson: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

Leigha Senter is a licensed genetic counselor and Associate Professor at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute where she has specialized in cancer genetics risk assessment for 17 years. Senter has more than a decade of research experience with a primary foc... (11/17/2020)

Padiath lab receives donation for ADLD research

Hugen's Padiath lab received ...
Padiath lab receives donation for ADLD research

Hugen's Padiath lab received a donation for their ongoing research on Autosomal Dominant Leukodystrophy (ADLD). The donation to the Leukodystrophy Research Fund stemmed from a GoFundMe fundraiser in memory of Nancy Chen, which raised a total of $17,285. ADLD is one of a group of genetic disorders c... (11/02/2020)

Innovation Institute reports record number of invention disclosures, despite pandemic

PITTWIRE - From swimming devi...
Innovation Institute reports record number of invention disclosures, despite pandemic

PITTWIRE - From swimming devices to rare disease gene therapies, Pitt inventors never stop: The Innovation Institute reported a record 394 invention disclosures for last fiscal year, and Director Evan Facher (HUGEN '97) says another robust year is ahead. (08/24/2020)

Chancellor Gallagher shares his outrage, grief, and solidarity

In a letter to the community,...
Chancellor Gallagher shares his outrage, grief, and solidarity

In a letter to the community, Chancellor Gallagher shares his outrage, grief, and anger. He challenges us all to demonstrate solidarity by standing with Pitt’s African American students, faculty, staff, and alumni in a shared commitment to realizing meaningful change. "How many times must we witnes... (06/02/2020)