Message from the Chair

As the fourth Chair of the Department of Human Genetics, I wish to thank my predecessors for building the Department to its current healthy state. Moving forward, ​I want to extend a warm welcome to new students who have just started their studies in our Department, and to those who have been here for some time, I hope you will share you experiences with your new colleagues. I can assure you that as Chair I will be available to you all as needed.

The Department of Human Genetics, founded in 1993, is a member of the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS) and is within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS). Both the SBMS and the FMHS are new entities. The SBMS was initiated recently with the goal of bringing scientists from biological disciplines together, and the FMHS’ new name (changed from the Faculty of Medicine) similarly reflects a broadening of the scope of the biological and medical sciences. Indeed, genetics has become the foundational science of modern medicine, neatly summarized by the title of a recent talk by Peter Byers (University of Washington) “Medicine, a subspecialty of Genetics”. Thus, it is probably true that any area of study that is undertaken in our Department will in some way have a connection to the health of others.

Faculty members carry out research and teaching across a very broad range of topics from ethics to epidemiology, from genomics to population genetics and from diseases that affect embryos to those that present at older ages. We are a distributed Department, which has its pros and cons. The core administrative unit is based in the Strathcona Building and the nearby Dahdaleh Institute of Genomic Medicine is the main site for Departmental members, but they are present at the Goodman Cancer Institute, the Neuro, The Life Sciences building, the McIntyre, the RI of the MUHC, the Shriners, the Lady Davis Institute, The Douglas and the Macdonald Campus. Genetics is truly everywhere! Studies towards M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees are offered by many of the Professors working at these sites. On the clinical side, members work at the main McGill-affiliated hospitals and the Department is accredited for service and training, by the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists, and medical genetics training by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada and the College des Médecins du Quebec. The genetic counselling program (the oldest in Canada) is accredited by the Canadian and American Genetic Counselling Societies and teaching is provided by genetics counsellors working at the main McGill Hospitals. The Human Genetics Student Society is a vibrant society that has won awards for the fun, collaborative community it has established.

I am sure you will have an exciting and fulfilling time in our Department, and will feel supported and stimulated by your peers, friends, mentors and teachers in our Department. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that the Department is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg nations. Have a wonderful time at McGill!

All the best,

William D Foulkes MB.BS., Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

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