Located on the MCV Campus in downtown Richmond, the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics is home to a community of passionate and dedicated researchers, educators and emerging leaders in the field of genetics.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics at VCU is to train the next generation of scientists, and to make fundamental discoveries that advance the ever-changing fields of genetics and epigenetics. By focusing on the broad expanse of molecules, genes, cells, microenvironment, organisms and interactions between organisms and the environment, the department seeks to provide a complete picture and atlas of both normal and disease states in order to diagnose and treat diseases through innovative research.

Department History


Dr. Roscoe D. Hughes formed the Department of Biology and Genetics in the Medical College of Virginia's School of Pharmacy, one of the first departments with genetics in its title.


The first graduate degree was awarded.


The department was transferred to the new School of Basic Health Sciences as a program in human genetics.


Virginia Commonwealth University was born, and the human genetics program became part of VCU's School of Basic Health Sciences.


The human genetics program attained full department status, making VCU one of only a handful of U.S. institutions with an autonomous department of human genetics, and the only one in the southeast. Dr. Walter Nance was recruited to be the first chair of the department.


Drs. Linda Corey and Walter Nance established the Virginia Twin Registry (now known as the Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry).


The first departmental Ph.D. was awarded.


Dr. Lindon Eaves was recruited from the University of Birmingham to establish the Genetic Epidemiology Research Group (GERD).


The Department of Human Genetics became part of the VCU School of Medicine.


Dr. Barry Wolf initiated the first statewide screen to test for biotinidase deficiency in newborns.


The Stony Point Antenatal Testing Facility was opened.


Under the direction of Dr. Joann Bodurtha, the Department of Human Genetics created a graduate track in genetic counseling and matriculated its first students.


Dr. Walter Nance became president of the American Society of Human Genetics. The M.S. in genetic counseling program was approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).


The fellowship program in the Department of Human Genetics became one of only 24 programs accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics, one of only two boards providing medical certification to both Ph.D. and M.D. trainees.


The M.S. in genetic counseling attained full accreditation by the professional governing body, the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).


The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, led by Drs. Lindon Eaves and Kenneth Kendler, was established by merging the GERD (see 1981) and Psychiatric Genetics Research Program (PGRP) in the Department of Psychiatry.


The Virginia Twin Registry (VTR) and the North Carolina Twin Registry merged to form the VCU Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (MATR), directed by Drs. Linda Corey and Lenn Murrelle.


Dr. Peter O'Connell became chair of the department.


Ms. Lauren Vanner-Nicely, director of the genetic counseling program, and Dr. Rita Shiang established a dual M.S. in genetic counseling and Ph.D. in human genetics program, the only such dual degree program in the U.S.


The VCU Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (MATR) became part of VCU's Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Dr. Judy Silberg was appointed the scientific director.


Dr. Walter Nance received the McKusick Leadership Award from the American Society of Human Genetics.


Dr. Paul B. Fisher became chair of the department and the inaugural head of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine. The department changed its name from the Department of Human Genetics to the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics.


Human and Molecular Genetics faculty members established two new research training programs, the VCU Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and the VCU Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) postdoctoral program to help diversify the biomedical workforce in conjunction with the VCU Center on Health Disparities.


Dr. Lindon Eaves was named professor emeritus.


Drs. Timothy York, Aaron Wolen and Rita Shiang established a concentration in genomic data science in the M.S. in human genetics program.


Rachel Gannaway, Heather Creswick and Dr. Rita Shiang established the graduate certificate program in clinical genetics.


Michael Grotewiel, Ph.D., named interim department chair, and Roxann Roberson-Nay, Ph.D., named interim graduate program director