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:

 

Department of Human Genetics mourns the loss of Haley Kulas

Haley M. Kulas (HUGEN ’21), p...
Department of Human Genetics mourns the loss of Haley Kulas

Haley M. Kulas (HUGEN ’21), passed away peacefully on March 9, 2022, surrounded by friends and family. Haley had a true passion for genetics and she fulfilled that passion by becoming a genetic counselor following her graduation in April of last year. Friends and family will be received on March 13... (03/14/2022)

Vockley among fellows selected by AAAS

Hugen’s Jerry Vockley named a...
Vockley among fellows selected by AAAS

Hugen’s Jerry Vockley named as a 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow. Election as a Fellow honors members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications in service to society have distinguished them among their peers and colleagues. Vockley dir... (02/15/2022)

Experts Say Oz's medical expertise can be double-edged, especially amid pandemic

WESA - HUGEN's Lisa Parker, d...
Experts Say Oz's medical expertise can be double-edged, especially amid pandemic

WESA - HUGEN's Lisa Parker, director of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, said many people look to authority figures like Dr. Oz for guidance. But Parker said [his] credentials can lead to what bioethicists call “a generalization of expertise,” in which people assume that because someone is ... (12/15/2021)

Finegold: How to use precision medicine to personalize COVID-19 treatment according to the patient's genes

THE CONVERSATION - HUGEN’s Da...
Finegold: How to use precision medicine to personalize COVID-19 treatment according to the patient's genes

THE CONVERSATION - HUGEN’s David Finegold and colleague “began a discussion about the promise and potential pitfalls of precision medicine before the arrival of COVID-19. If precision medicine is the future of medicine, then its application to pandemics generally, and COVID-19 in particular, may ye... (10/28/2021)

Cat in the Lab: Feline Genomes Fuel Precision Medicine

GEN - Leslie Lyons (HUGEN ‘91...
Cat in the Lab: Feline Genomes Fuel Precision Medicine

GEN - Leslie Lyons (HUGEN ‘91, '87), professor of comparative medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, emphasizes the importance of using the right model for studying a disease. When one thinks of the most popular and useful animal models in biomedical research, one t... (09/14/2021)