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Dr. Rick Kittles

Rick Kittles is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Associate Director of the Cancer Center, and Director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Dr. Kittles has a strong commitment to mentoring graduate and postdoc students of color in his genetics laboratory. The mission of the lab is to identify genetic and environmental contributions to cancer risk and treatment outcomes with a focus on issues surrounding race, genetic ancestry and health disparities.

Kittles received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from George Washington University and was faculty at Howard University where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center. From 1997 to 2004, Dr. Kittles helped establish and coordinate a national cooperative network to study the genetics of hereditary prostate cancer in the African American community. This project, called the AAHPC study network, successfully recruited over 100 African American hereditary prostate cancer families and serves as a model for recruitment of African Americans in genetic studies of complex diseases.

Dr. Kittles is well known for his research of prostate cancer and health disparities among African Americans. He has also been at the forefront of the development of ancestry-informative genetic markers, and how genetic ancestry can be used to map genes for common traits and disease. Dr. Kittles co-founded African Ancestry, Inc., a private company that provides DNA testing services for tracing African genetic lineages to genealogists and the general public around the world. Kittles was recently named in Ebony magazine’s “The Ebony Power 100.” Ebony selected the nation’s top 100 African-American “power players” in sports, academia, religion, business, environment, science & tech, entertainment, arts and letters, fashion, politics, media, activism and health.

His work on tracing the genetic ancestry of African Americans has brought light to many issues, new and old, which relate to race, ancestry, identity, and group membership. Dr. Kittles’ high profile research and his strong ability to communicate genetic concepts and issues eloquently and understandably to the lay public has been featured over the past decade in eight PBS and BBC network documentaries related to human biological diversity, race and disease. His work has been featured on CNN and the CBS show ’60 Minutes’ where he was interviewed by Leslie Stahl. Dr. Kittles has published over 100 research articles on prostate cancer genetics, Race and Genetics, and health disparities.