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.
Advancing Research in Human Genetics
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.
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, trainees, healthcare professionals, 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 how human genetics science impacts health and society, including:
To promote genetics education from K-16 and beyond, ASHG sponsors a number of education programs throughout the year and at its Annual Meeting.
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, which attracts entrants from nearly every state and over 20 countries. The Society also hosts the Genetics Education Outreach Network of genetics experts to speak to students and classrooms, and an online database of standards-based lessons and other resources for teachers. 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 a hybrid online/on-campus professional development program for faculty: Building Excellence in Genetics Instruction, which uses adult learning principles and the latest evidence-based teaching practices to help faculty transform 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 standing committees and the Board of Directors, affording valuable opportunities to develop leadership experience. ASHG provides an online 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 early-career genetics professionals the opportunity to prepare for careers in education by contributing to education program development and research at a national level.
Health Professional Education
ASHG develops and implements genomics education programs for health professionals who are not genetics specialists to improve the practice of medicine and patient health outcomes. These programs – online, in-person, and hybrid – enable providers to incorporate the latest advances in genetic risk assessment, testing, and management into their practices. In 2016, the Society and industry partners established the Genomic Medicine Education Consortium to support these efforts.
To help advance human genetics in science, health, and society, ASHG backs policies that support scientific discovery, the translation of discoveries into health advances, and the appropriate application of genetics in society. ASHG further supports integrating the teaching of genetics in children’s education and in the training of health professionals, and enhancing the genetic literacy of the adult public. To this end, Society staff and leaders analyze emerging policy issues, comment on pending legislation and regulations, and advocate for evidence-based policies that benefit science, personal and public health, and society at large.
ASHG also partners with NHGRI to support the ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship to empower early-career geneticists to transition to policy-related careers and train the next generation of genetics policy leaders. Through its Advocacy Award, the Society honors excellence and achievement in promoting the science of human genetics and its application for the common good.
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?
Yes; ASHG employs 12-15 full-time staff members.
Joseph D. McInerney
Executive Vice President