From the Director

Why Public Health Genetics?

Jennifer SmithOver the past decade, there has been an explosion in the availability of genomic information. High-throughput genotyping chips and next-generation sequencing have revolutionized the field of genomics research, facilitating the identification of tens of thousands of genetic factors that are associated with a wide range of human traits, behaviors, and diseases. At the same time, genomic research has expanded to include other types of omic data, such as gene expression (transcriptomics) and gene regulation (epigenomics), which has vastly increased our knowledge of cellular biology and disease-related mechanisms.

While this explosion of information has paved the way for precision medicine and precision health, it has also brought to light many new questions and concerns that need to be addressed, both from a research perspective as well as from an ethical, legal, and social perspective. For example, the growing number and types of genetic tests available, commercialization of genetic testing, large-scale genomic biobanks, gene editing technologies, and other advances require the careful consideration of their implications for human health and well-being both at the individual level and the population level.

Since 1996, when we became one of the first public health genetics programs in the nation, we have worked diligently to train students in multiple interdisciplinary facets of the dynamic field of public health genetics. We seek to inspire students to contribute to a well-informed workforce that can leverage genomic information to improve human health. We encourage you to become engaged in the program and explore all that we have to offer!

Jennifer Smith, PhD, MPH
Director, Certificate in Public Health Genetics