Unmasking the Genetic Architecture of Complex and Common Diseases

How does DNA determine someone's predisposition to disease? Human genetics specialists study the human genome to identify the genetic causes of disease, develop new strategies for treatment, and provide early warning for those at risk. Our human genetics program uses novel methods in population and statistical genetics, genetic epidemiology, and bioinformatics to understand the genetic bases for a wide variety of diseases.

We also study genetic mechanisms related to the transition from normal to disease states, and we seek to understand how genes interact with the environment and affect the distribution of health and disease in human populations.

Ours was the first human genetics department in an American school of public health, and in addition to our strengths in basic and applied research in human genetics, we have one of the oldest and most respected programs in genetic counseling in the country.

Our faculty's focus is on unmasking the genetic architecture of complex and common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. Our active statistical genetics group is developing new statistical and bioinformatic methods for genetics research. Faculty members are also examining ethical issues in genetics research and the provision of services, informed consent, and experiences of individuals facing genetic risk. The translation of this work to the public is a major focus of the human genetics and genetic counseling programs.

We provide intensive training in all aspects of human genetics that will prepare you to serve in academia, medicine, government, or industry. For example, our graduates work as genetic counselors at hospitals and genetic testing and biopharmaceutical companies, as university professors and directors of genetics research laboratories, and as investigators for health- and research-related government agencies.


While our department was officially established in 1989—the first human genetics department in an American school of public health—its origin traces to 1951 and the hiring of Ching Chun “C.C.” Li.


The Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health is dedicated to genetics research, teaching, and services.

Strategic Plan

Pitt Public Health's vision of informed, empowered and healthy populations as explained through our mission and strategic plan goals.