American Society of Human Genetics
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), founded in 1948, is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. The Society’s nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with a special interest in human genetics. Our members work in a wide range of settings, including universities, hospitals, institutes, and medical and research laboratories. ASHG membership is open to all interested parties; no formal training in genetics is required.
Our mission is to advance human genetics in science, health, and society through excellence in research, education, and advocacy.
ASHG works toward achieving its mission
through the following initiatives:
Advancing Research in Human
ASHG provides venues to share the newest basic research findings, technological advances and applications of human genetics in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of health conditions. The ASHG Annual Meeting serves as the primary venue for interaction among human genetics professionals, and has an annual attendance rate of over 7,000. In addition, ASHG publishes The American Journal of Human Genetics, a highly-regarded scientific research journal that is issued monthly.
Genetics Education: Health
ASHG’s primary educational objectives are to help prepare health professionals to integrate genomics into medicine, promote awareness of human genetics, encourage young people to enter genetics-related careers, and foster trust and support for genetics research. ASHG accomplishes those goals by educating students, health care professionals, health policy makers, the media, and the public about human genetics and its translation to health care practice.
ASHG’s genetics education initiatives for consumers and the media primarily focus on information about basic scientific concepts in human genetics research including:
- Advances in human genetics research and clinical applications
- The role of genes and the environment in influencing health and disease
- The importance of family health history information
- Direct-to-consumer genetic testing and test regulation
- Genetic discrimination and related health care legislation
ASHG also works in partnership with other genetics organizations that promote educational programs and resources for consumers and health care providers
Genetics Education: From Classroom to Career
The mission of ASHG’s education division is to promote genetics education at all levels, K-16 and beyond. To fulfill this mission, ASHG sponsors a number of education programs throughout the year and at our Annual Meeting. Please visit the ASHG Education website for more information on the Society’s various education programs and resources.
K-12 Education & Outreach
ASHG is one of the leading supporters of National DNA Day through its sponsorship of the ASHG Annual DNA Day Essay Contest for high school students. The Society also hosts the Genetics Education and Outreach Network to speak to audiences at local DNA Day events and year round. Network members and teachers can access standards-based lessons and other resources. ASHG also invites 150 high school students and their teachers to attend an interactive full-day workshop in association with the Society’s Annual Meeting.
Undergraduate Education & Outreach
At each ASHG Annual Meeting, the Society hosts a full-day workshop for instructors of undergraduate genetics, which focuses on content updates, resources, and pedagogy for teaching genetics effectively. ASHG also provides on-campus professional development in the latest evidence-based teaching practices, through its BEGIn program, for faculty interested in transforming their lecture-based genetics classes into student-centered learning environments.
Human Genetics Graduate/Postgraduate Professional Training & Career Development
Trainee members of ASHG serve on all major committees and the Board of Directors, affording valuable opportunities to develop leadership experience. ASHG provides an online Graduate Training Program Guide for programs in human genetics and a Career Toolkit for ASHG trainee members, which includes a searchable job bank. ASHG also partners with the Genetics Society of America to run GeneticsCareers.org, an online forum to match job seekers with career and training opportunities in all areas of genetics.
In addition, ASHG and the National Human Genome Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) jointly support the ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Education Fellowship, which provides genetics professionals the opportunity to prepare for careers in education by contributing to education program development and research at a national level.
ASHG works with a number of partners to support and augment efforts to further the interests of human genetics in public policy and legislation. The Society frequently addresses policy and ethical issues in human genetics such as: genetic information privacy and non-discrimination legislation, stem cell research, intellectual property issues (including gene patenting and licensing), issues surrounding genetics and race, clinical genetic testing, genetic testing in children and adolescents, and the regulation and quality control of genetic tests (including direct-to-consumer genetic tests, laboratory-developed tests, and next-generation sequencing tests). ASHG played a major role in supporting the passage of the U.S. federal Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) though a primary partnership with the Genetic Alliance and the Coalition for Genetic Fairness.
ASHG also partners with NHGRI to support the ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship in an effort to train the next generation of advocates who will work to gain support for policies and legislative efforts that support human genetics.
In collaboration with the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB), ASHG works each year to enhance federal funding for research, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on funding support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
FASEB Member Society
ASHG is a member of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a coalition of independent societies that serve the interests of biomedical and life scientists. FASEB’s mission is to support its constituent societies and advance biological science. These dual objectives are achieved through collaborative advocacy for research policies that promote scientific progress and education, and lead to improvements in human health. For more information, please visit the FASEB website, or read our fact sheet: “What is FASEB Anyway?”
ASHG employs 12-15
full-time staff members.