About the Human Genetics Initiative

Innovation through integration

The ground is fertile for a significant leap forward in genetics.  Personalized medicine - wherein a physician identifies genetic risk factors for specific diseases and for potential "idiosyncratic" reactions before choosing a given therapy - is within reach.

The challenge now, however, is to quicken our pace.  How do we accelerate the translation of the burgeoning body of basic genetics knowledge into clinical practice in ways that meaningfully benefit patients?

We change our approach to meet the landscape.  As a start, we organize ourselves in ways that reflect the inherently integrative nature of genetics itself and thus provide a clearer path to the healthcare vision.

The goal of the Human Genetics Initiative at OHSU is to accelerate the translation of scientific knowledge to patient care.  The Human Genetics Initiative (HGI) cuts across all OHSU missions, departments and units.  The initiative will recruit new faculty, build advanced technologies, develop new educational programs and, eventually, establish a novel delivery model for genetics healthcare.

An integral part of HGI is to foster and support the genetics community at OHSU.  This web site is an information clearinghouse for events, outreach and connections to internal and external genetics researchers, educators and clinicians.

Supporting the genetics community

Spurred by the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI) which has created new opportunities at OHSU for interdisciplinary research, HGI is a cross-disciplinary academic model that reflects the OHSU 2020 Vision, the School of Medicine's strategic plan and the Roadmap of the National Institutes of Health.  The Roadmap specifically identifies genetics and genomics as essential "translational technologies" that promote interdisciplinary research.

As a partnership between OCTRI and the School of Medicine's Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics (MMG), the key elements of the initiative are strategic investments in the new faculty, development of advanced technology at OHSU, and education of a new generation of healthcare providers in genetics.  The Human Genetics Initiative builds on and leverages existing genetics resources at OHSU by bringing them into a unifying programmatic home, and by continuing to explore new organizational models that share resources, expand opportunities for collaboration and reduce redundancy.  The HGI is funded by OCTRI, MMG, the Dean of the School of Medicine and the Vice President for Research.

The Human Genetics Initiative is directed by Susan Hayflick, MD, Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics, Pediatrics and Neurology.  Oversight is provided by an Advisory Board, composed of OHSU faculty.  The Board is responsible for strategic planning.

Early priorities

Novel Educational Programs

Another HGI focus is to build novel educational programs to train physicians and physician-scientists from many disciplines.  The intent is to create a national model for integrating genetics training into subspecialty medical education.

Interdisciplinary Clinical Care

Finally, HGI will develop interdisciplinary clinical care programs that integrate genetics into healthcare in a way that reflects its central role in health and disease.  Genetic testing is no longer the purview of geneticists alone.  These capabilities herald an era of delivering healthcare tailored to the individual patient.  OHSU will lead the nation in their development and the evaluation of their impact on health.


Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute

OCTRI is a partnership between OHSU and Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research (KPCHR) that brings together a strong biomedical research university and an innovative practice-based research center associated with a large patient population.

OHSU Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics

Contact us

Interested in getting involved or getting more information?  Let us know.