The University of Utah has a national and international reputation as a center of excellence in genetics. The University has a student body of over 32,000 and a large health sciences center, which is ranked in the top 10 of all academic medical centers in the country. It houses the Department of Human Genetics, the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics, and multiple programs that have a strong genetic component, including the Maternal Fetal Diagnostic Center in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Other local institutions affiliated with the genetic counseling program include Intermountain Healthcare, which provides perinatal genetics, cancer genetics, and pediatric and adult cardiology rotations; the Utah State Department of Health, which houses the Pregnancy Risk Line/Mother to Baby and Newborn Screening Program; the Genomic Medicine Institute at the VA Hospital; and ARUP Laboratories and Myriad Genetics, Inc., which are local laboratories that provide genetic testing and research.
The George and Dolores Eccles Institute of Human Genetics is the focal point for genetic research at the University of Utah. The Institute houses the Department of Human Genetics, Human Molecular Biology and Genetics Program, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Genetic Science Learning Center, Utah Genome Project, Program in Personalized Health, and Utah Genome Depot. One of the department faculty members, Mario Capecchi, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in gene targeting. Much of the University’s success in genetic research comes from working with Utah families. Because Utahans tend to have large families and keep extensive genealogy records, they are ideal partners for investigating human genetics. The department provides administrative support and instruction in Human Genetics and awards the Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling.
The Department of Pediatrics is the second largest department in the School of Medicine at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. The Department also provides the medical staff and administration for Primary Children’s Hospital, a 289-bed tertiary care hospital, which provides care for children in many states on the western side of the Rockies. The Division of Medical Genetics has active clinical and research programs, multiple nationally and internationally recognized faculty members, and has spearheaded the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling. The Division currently has seven clinical geneticists and three genetic counselors. The Division provides instruction and clinical supervision in Clinical Genetics, Human Genetics, Biochemical Genetics, and the Genetic Counseling Seminar series.
The Huntsman Cancer Institute features research, education, and patient care programs and facilities, including Huntsman Cancer Hospital, and is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated facility in the Intermountain West. It houses the largest genetic database in the world and offers several high-risk cancer clinics that provide genetic testing for and study of the inheritance of melanoma, breast, pancreatic, and colon cancers. Faculty and staff of the Institute and genetic counselors at Myriad Genetics, Inc. provide instruction and clinical supervision in the Cancer Genetics, Adult, and Research courses.
The Maternal Fetal Diagnostic Center in the University of Utah School of Medicine and Maternal Fetal Medicine at Intermountain Healthcare, the Utah Pregnancy Risk Line, and ARUP Laboratories provide instruction and/or clinical experience in perinatal genetics topics. Both Maternal Fetal Medicine groups have an active perinatal service, including a clinical geneticist/perinatologist, genetic counselors, and high-level diagnostic imaging capabilities. The Pregnancy Risk Line is a full-time teratology service that serves Utah and surrounding states.
ARUP Laboratories is a large non-profit national reference lab owned by the University of Utah. It houses biochemical, molecular, cytogenetics and special chemistry labs and employs genetic counselors.
The Health Sciences Education Building houses medical, health, nursing, pharmacy, and allied health students (including genetic counseling students). There are 40 classrooms accommodating from 15 to 150 students, lounges, computer and wet labs, and a café. The building has state-of-the-art communication facilities.