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About the Genetics Cluster Initiative

Genetics, both as a basic science and in clinical practice, plays a critical and highly visible role in advancing personalized medicine and public health. Genetics will be the basis of future research unraveling the connections between our DNA sequences and our risks for clinical disease and will provide a national basis for prevention, intervention and cure. Genetics transcends departments, colleges and disciplines and generates both needs and services in the basic sciences, health care, bioethics, law, bioinformatics and communications.

Three of the four University of Iowa strategic priorities for 2010-2016 are ideally suited for having genetics play a central role.

Student Success

As personalized medicine becomes a reality, our students will need to understand how law, communications, risk assessment and public policy impact prevention and treatment of common disease. Each of us has a unique genetic background that is being disclosed via advances in technology and directly impacts our risk for disease and our response to therapies. While these are major clinical advances, they also create challenges as personal genetic data enter the internet age and create conflicts related to insurance, personal risk assessment and choice, forensic testing and database access, and views of race and ancestry.

Knowledge and Practice

Genetics already plays a key role in our knowledge and practice of public health and clinical care. Iowa needs to build on its existing strengths in genetic disease studies to play a leadership role in converting genetic knowledge to clinical use.

Better Futures for Iowans

Healthier lives for Iowans will be best assured by using genetics to enable more effective and personalized treatments of cancer, aging, obesity, cardiovascular disease, preterm birth and other major health challenges whose causes are strongly influenced by genetics.

Our cluster hire proposes to build on the strong presence of genetics at Iowa to fill gaps and to address new needs in this fast moving and central discipline. We will seed faculty across six colleges in areas of critical need that will build our research capacity, enhance our ability to teach, strengthen the presence of genetics in our community and assist in building and integrated prescenec for genetics on our campus.

These hires will provide:

  • Consultation in genetics to state agencies such as the Departments of Public Health and Education
  • Expertise to the Institutional Review Board in genetic research
  • Assistance to the Office of the Vice President for Research in developing genetics related to industrial arrangements.

In addition, these hires would not only benefit their departments directly, but also enrich UI disciplines in ecology, behavioral sciences, literature and others.