Buried in the cells of each newborn is a unique set of genetic instructions. These molecular blueprints not only shape how the child will grow and develop and whether it will have brown eyes or blue, but what sorts of medical problems it might encounter. Errors in our genes, our genetic material, are responsible for an estimated 3,000-4,000 hereditary diseases, including Huntington disease, cystic fibrosis, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. What's more, altered genes are now known to play a part in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other common diseases. Genetic flaws increase a person's risk of developing these more common and complex disorders. The diseases themselves stem from interactions of genetic predispositions and environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle.
Human Genetics has many areas of expertise. This course will focus on four areas, (1) classical or Mendelian genetics, diseases where major effects are from a single gene, (2) multifactorial inheritance, continuous traits and discontinuous traits where several genes plus environmental factors are involved, (3) cytogenetics, diseases involving chromosomal abnormalities, and (4) mathematical genetics, including population genetics, linkage, and mapping.