Ph.D. Program in Human Genetics (HGEN)

The Ph.D. program in Human Genetics (HGEN) offered by the Institute provides students with a solid foundation for a career in human genetics research and teaching.  The Training Program in Human Genetics admits students through one of the three interdepartmental programs:

The goal of the Ph.D. Program in Human Genetics is to train students to explore scientific questions in genetics, with an emphasis on human disease. The program is designed to ensure technical proficiency in statistical and molecular techniques, provide current knowledge of genetics research and methods, and develop scientific communication skills. The program provides a cohesive experience that leverages the many facets of human genetics research at Vanderbilt, for the benefit of trainees and research mentors. Human Genetics is an equal opportunity graduate program and accepts qualified students regardless of cultural, social, demographic, or biological characteristics.

For more information on how to apply see the following websites:

Predoctoral students in the Human Genetics Training Program are supported in part by two training grants funded by the National Institutes of Health: (1) the Vanderbilt Training Program on Genetic Variation and Human Phenotypes (T32 GM080178) and (2) the Training Program in Quantitative Ocular Genomics (T32 EY21453).

Both T32 training programs provide support for primary predoctoral research in the field of human genetics. Genetics is the study of variation in and transmission of hereditary material from generation to generation and how this information is translated into biological function. Genetics utilizes multiple techniques to understand the variation, transmission and function of hereditary material from the molecular level to the population level. Because of the pervasive impact of genetic variation on biological function, genetics has become a unifying theme for much research in the biological and biomedical sciences and can serve as a focus for the study of virtually all biological processes and systems. Genetics plays an ever increasing role in elucidation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of human disease and birth defects, as well as in their prevention, diagnosis and therapy. In addition to the use of genetics to study biomedical questions posed by other fields, genetics encompasses an important set of questions as to how the information content of a set of relatively simple molecules can be translated into complex organisms, how variation at the molecular level can cause differences among individuals in terms of normal variation and disease processes, and how this variation within and among populations can be used to explain differences in disease prevalence.

In recent years, human genetics, as a subfield of genetics, has contributed significantly to our understanding of disease processes. This explosion in the growth of knowledge as an outcome of genetic analysis and the successfully completed Human Genome Project will increase over the foreseeable future. The goal of the Ph.D. Program in Human Genetics is to build on this explosion of knowledge by training students to explore the questions motivated by genetic research in general and particularly as they apply to human disease.

Our graduate students are well-rounded biologists conducting research in an amazing variety of topics interfacing with human genetics, largely focused on generating and/or analyzing state-of-the-art genetic and genomic (and other -omic) data, including data from the utterly unique BioVU resource. The curriculum will teach students within the program as well as students in other disciplines how to use the tools of genetics to answer a variety of important biological questions.