During the past two decades, single gene defects have been described for over 7,000 diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and familial breast cancer). However, these “monogenic” diseases account for only a relatively small fraction of illness and suffering (i.e, ~5% of live births). It is now widely recognized that most chronic human diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, and even psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and Tourette syndrome all have complex etiologies involving diverse genetic factors that interplay with environmental components. Indeed, even relatively acute diseases such as cancer and stroke are now known to have strong inherited components. It is these “complex” diseases that produce the greatest societal burden in terms of morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs. Thus, providing treatments and cures offers the greatest opportunities for improving human welfare and creating prosperity. However, it has become clear that understanding the etiology of complex diseases will require a novel, multidisciplinary mindset as well as new tools.
An understanding of the genetic bases of individuality and the genetic risk factors for each common disease will require a massive study of inherited DNA sequence variations in many individuals from different human populations. It is only through efforts to comprehend total human variation that we will begin to understand the uniqueness of the individual and the diseases for which each is at risk. These studies of human populations will require new high-throughput technologies and the interdisciplinary cooperation of life scientists, physicians, mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, ethicists and others.
The Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey (HGINJ) leverages the strengths of Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) with a new, high-throughput genetic analysis facility, providing academic and corporate colleagues with a unique and vertically-integrated system of support services. HGINJ has the expertise and resources to coordinate large-scale gene discovery and pharmacogenomic studies from the stages of population identification and sample collection, through high-throughput genotyping, and on to comprehensive statistical analyses with novel methods developed at HGINJ. The HGINJ has attracted top-notch scientists, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students to provide the critical mass for a nationally renowned program in human genetics.
We hope that HGINJ will be an essential future resource for the research efforts of academia and industry, both of whom have already indicated a specific interest in utilizing HGINJ facilities and services. Please peruse our site and see the range of programs and services we have to offer.
Jay A. Tischfield, PhD, FFACMG
Executive Director, Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey
Scientific Director, Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository
Duncan and Nancy MacMillan Professor of Genetics
Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, UMDNJ