About the Department

about.jpg‌Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Human and Molecular Genetics research activities are multifaceted, focusing on current important areas of medical and basic research with specific emphasis on translation of discoveries in basic science into the clinic to treat and prevent significant pathological conditions including but not limited to cancer,  eurodegeneration and infectious diseases. HMG Department areas of concentration include molecular genetics, quantitative genetics, developmental genetics, cancer genetics, tumor biology and metastasis, cell signaling in normal and cancer development, hematopoiesis, cellular differentiation, model organisms (including zebra fish, drosophila and mice) for studying abnormal physiology, genetic epidemiology, cancer gene therapy, mechanism(s) and therapy of neurodegeneration, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, and genetic counseling/medical genetics. Investigators are using state-of-the-art technologies to address fundamental biological questions permitting students to be exposed to multiple innovative approaches to ask and answer important scientific questions, with potential to lead to new therapies and diagnostic approaches for human diseases.

The Department of Human and Molecular Genetics is also home to the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM).  Under the direction of Dr. Paul B. Fisher, the mission of the VIMM is to create the next generation of effective preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for cancer, neurodegeneration and infectious diseases. Among the goals of the VIMM are to leverage current knowledge of cancer, neurodegeneration and infectious diseases to better understand genes that play a critical role in pathogenesis, to identify molecular targets for developing strategies to diagnose and treat these three disease states, and to transfer discoveries into the arena of clinical research and ultimately into practical benefit to society.

We are one of only 24 accredited medical genetics training programs in the U.S., and are recognized internationally for our research dissecting the genetic and environmental components of behavioral and psychiatric disorders, our National DNA Repository for studies of hereditary deafness, and our cytogenetics repository of patients with mosaic Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders. Recent faculty recruitment has augmented our expertise in cancer genetics, animal models, developmental genetics, metastasis, gene cloning and characterization, cancer gene therapy, mechanisms of aging and neurodegeneration, and infectious diseases/innate immunity, adding new strengths within our research programs.

Sequencing of the human and other genomes continues to result in the rapid discovery and elucidation of function of physiologically relevant genes and signaling pathways. These advances in the post-genomic era are heralding in a new age of human and molecular genetics with potential to effectively treat on a molecular level a broad spectrum of human diseases. Our primary objectives include training scientists and clinicians to assimilate and contribute to the pace of genetic discovery and understanding, and to translate these discoveries into medical practice.

As you tour our website, I am sure you will appreciate the department’s versatile training opportunities. We look forward to discussing these opportunities with prospective students and encourage patients — and the community at large — to use our site to learn more about this exciting and rapidly evolving field of critical importance to human health.


Dr. Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Human and Molecular Genetics
Director, VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine