Jenna C Carlson

  • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty in Human Genetics and Biostatistics

Jenna C. Carlson, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Human Genetics and Biostatistics. She joined the faculty of Pitt Public Health in 2018.

Dr. Carlson is an expert in statistical genetics, focusing on genetic epidemiology studies of complex traits, including orofacial clefting, oral health, obesity, diabetes, and other cardiometabolic traits. Her research includes statistical methodology for modeling and understanding phenotypic heterogeneity of complex traits and developing genotype imputation reference panels for underrepresented groups in biomedical research. Her collaborations include the Samoan Obesity, Lifestyle and Genetic Adaptations (OLaGA) Study Group and the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Consortium.

In addition to teaching in traditional bioinformatics courses, Dr. Carlson also teaches introductory data science using R workshops through the Health Sciences Library System every semester. She is interested in education and pedagogical research and seeks to use evidenced-based instructional methods in each of her classes.


2012 | California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA | B.S. Applied Mathematics and Statistics
2017 | University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | Ph.D. Biostatistics



Current Teaching:

  • HUGEN 2077, Genome Bioinformatics Professional Skills
  • HUGEN 2072, Genomic Data Pipelines and Tools

Workshops with the Health Science Library System:

  • Introduction to R
  • Data Management in R
  • Data Visualization in R with ggplot2

Previous Courses Taught:

  • BIOST 2011, Principles of Statistical Reasoning
  • BIOST 2022, Capstone Prep
  • BIOST 2039, Biostatistical Methods
  • BIOST 2041, Introduction to Statistical Methods
  • BIOST 2099, Capstone
Selected Publications

Carlson JC, Krishnan M, Liu S, Anderson KJ, Zhang JZ, Yapp TJ, Chiyka EA, Dikec DA, Cheng H, Naseri T, Reupena MS, Viali S, Deka R, Hawley NL, McGarvey ST, Weeks DE, Minster RL. Improving imputation quality in Samoans through the integration of population-specific sequences into existing reference panels. medRxiv 2023.10.31.23297835; doi:

Carlson JC, Krishnan M, Rosenthal SL, Russell EM, Zhang JZ, Hawley NL, Moors J, Cheng H, Dalbeth N, de Zoysa JR, Watson H, Qasim M, Murphy R, Naseri T, Reupena MS, Viali S, Stamp LK, Tuitele J, Kershaw EE, Deka R, McGarvey ST, Merriman TR, Weeks DE, Minster RL. A stop-gain variant in BTNL9 is associated with atherogenic lipid profiles. HGG Adv. 2022 Oct 12;4(1):100155. doi: 10.1016/j.xhgg.2022.100155. PMID: 36340932; PMCID: PMC9630829.

Carlson JC, Weeks DE, Hawley NL, Sun G, Cheng, H, Naseri T, Reupena MS, Deka R, McGarvey ST*, Minster RL*. Genome-wide Association Studies in Samoans Give Insight into the Genetic Etiology of Fasting Serum Lipid Levels. J Hum Genet. 2021 Feb;66(2):111-121. doi: 10.1038/s10038-020-0816-9. Epub 2020 Aug 5. PMID: 32759990; PMCID: PMC7785639

Carlson JC, Standley J, Petrin A, Shaffer JR, Butali A, Buxó CJ, Castilla E, Christensen K, Deleyiannis FW, Hecht JT, Field LL, Garidkhuu A, Moreno Uribe LM, Nagato N, Orioli IM, Padilla C, Poletta F, Suzuki S, Vieira AR, Wehby GL, Weinberg SM, Beaty TH, Feingold E, Murray JC, Marazita ML, Leslie EJ. Identification of 16q21 as a modifier of nonsyndromic orofacial cleft phenotypes. Genet Epidemiol. 2017 Dec;41(8):887-897. doi: 10.1002/gepi.22090. Epub 2017 Nov 10. PubMed PMID: 29124805; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5728176.

Carlson JC, Anand D, Butali A, Buxo CJ, Christensen K, Deleyiannis F, Hecht JT, Moreno LM, Orioli IM, Padilla C, Shaffer JR, Vieira AR, Wehby GL, Weinberg SM, Murray JC, Beaty TH, Saadi I, Lachke SA, Marazita ML, Feingold E, Leslie EJ. A systematic genetic analysis and visualization of phenotypic heterogeneity among orofacial cleft GWAS signals. Genet Epidemiol. 2019 Sep;43(6):704-716. doi: 10.1002/gepi.22214. Epub 2019 Jun 6. PubMed PMID: 31172578; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6687557.

Carlson JC, Taub MA, Feingold E, Beaty TH, Murray JC, Marazita ML, Leslie EJ. Identifying Genetic Sources of Phenotypic Heterogeneity in Orofacial Clefts by Targeted Sequencing. Birth Defects Res. 2017 Jul 17;109(13):1030-1038. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.23605. PubMed PMID: 28762674; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5549861

For more, see my bibliography in PubMed