Issues in Public Health Genetics
This one-semester course consolidates several established workshops and short courses into a single class. The first module focuses on basic concepts in epidemiology as they apply to genetics, introducing an epidemiologic approach to genetic disease, testing, and counseling. Specifically, the course will provide students with key genetic and epidemiologic concepts, introduce the basic structure of study design, and provide opportunities to evaluate examples from the literature. Each three-hour session comprises a one-hour lecture introducing key concepts, a one-hour case study carried out in a small group format, and a one-hour journal club in the large group setting. Due to the increasing importance of clinical research and informatics in the genetics field, a second module explores research methodologies and SPSS. Students are introduced to the common research methods used in clinical genetic research and are instructed in recognizing the qualities of good research studies. They are further afforded an opportunity, through the use of the electronic classroom setting, to develop and analyze certain aspects of a database that they have created. The goal of this module is to help them become aware of research protocols as they apply to clinical genetics and to learn skills they might apply to their thesis project. A third module takes on the prickly ethical issues that are common in the genetics field. This module covers issues such as patient rights, informed consent, confidentiality, predictive testing, genetic discrimination, and the duty to warn. A fourth module provides students with additional experience in performing Bayesian calculations, in using statistical methods of risk assessment, and in practicing risk assessment through pedigree analysis and molecular testing.