Genetic Epidemiology is the study of genetic factors that independently or in combination with environmental factors influences the risk of disease. Genetic epidemiology uses a variety of study designs including family and population approaches to investigate disease risk. Departmental faculty use the methods of genetic epidemiology to investigate genetic susceptibility and gene-environment interaction in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, reproductive and pediatric disease, and other health conditions.

Core Faculty

Dr. Christy Avery: Genetic variants associated with complex diseases; Adverse drug reactions; Genome-wide association studies.

Dr. Jeannette Bensen: Breast cancer susceptibility; Racial differences in prostate cancer; Birth defects etiology and prevention; Cancer survivors.

Dr. Kimon Divaris: Genetics of oral and dental traits; dental caries; periodontal disease; gene-environment interactions; genome-wide association studies; gene-centric and pathway analyses; trans-ethnic studies; health disparities; qualitative studies

Dr. Nora Franceschini: Genetics of chronic kidney disease and blood pressure in diverse populations.

Dr. Misa Graff: Genetic variants associated with complex diseases.

Dr. Kari North: Genetic epidemiology of complex traits and obesity; research that takes place at the intersection of human genetics, epidemiology, statistical techniques and interdisciplinary translational research.

Dr. Til Stürmer: Adverse drug reactions; Genome-wide association studies.

Dr. Eric Whitzel: Adverse drug reactions; Genome-wide association studies.

Dr. Kristin Young: Genetic variants associated with complex diseases.

Affiliated genetic epidemiology faculty are involved in a number of diverse research projects, a number of which are listed below. Other genetic and molecular epidemiology projects can be found in faculty and program research profiles.

Selected Research Projects

  • Analytic laboratory for development of biomarkers of environmental exposure to arsenic
  • Carolina Breast Cancer Study
  • Comprehensive Mapping of a Blood Pressure QTL on Chromosome 17
  • Dietary Fiber, Gut Microflora, & Epigenetic Events that Prevent Colorectal Cancer
  • Environmental arsenic and diabetes mellitus
  • Gene Modifiers in CF Liver Disease
  • Gene-Environment Interactions and Weight Gain
  • Genes Environment and Melanoma Study
  • Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk across the Lifecourse: The Santiago Longitudinal Cohort Study
  • Genetic Epidemiology of Metabolic Diseases of Obesity
  • Genome Wide Association Study of Breast Cancer in African Americans
  • Genome-Wide Association for Loci Influencing CVD and Other Heart, Lung and Blood Phenotypes
  • Genome-Wide Association Study of Early Childhood Caries
  • Health Care Access and Prostate Cancer Treatment in North Carolina: HCaP-NC
  • Hispanic Community Health Study
  • HyperGEN
  • Innovative Analysis of Blood Pressure Variation in Gene-Environment Context
  • NHGRI Genome Sequencing Program Coordinating Center
  • North Carolina Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention
  • Pharmacogenomics of risk factors for cardiac arrhythmias in global populations
  • Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Phase II – Study Investigators CALiCo II
  • Prospective meta-analysis of drug-gene interactions: CHARGE GWAS consortium
  • Prostate Cancer Susceptibility: The ICPCG Stdy
  • QTL mapping for genes regulating apoptosis capacity
  • Racial Differences in Prostate Cancer: Influence of Health Care and Host and Tumor Biology (PCaP)
  • Strong Heart Family Study
  • The Human Life Course and the Biodemography of Aging
  • UNC Health Registry
  • Women’s’ Health Initiative SHARE GWAS Analysis Center
For general questions about the department, the degree program, or admissions, contact us via email at epidemiology@unc.edu or call us at (919) 966-7430. Questions about employment should be directed to (919) 966-7460.

Main Department Contacts

Academic Coordinators

Mailing Address
Department of Epidemiology
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
135 Dauer Drive
2101 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB #7435
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7435

Our offices are located on the second floor of McGavran-Greenberg Hall.