Rick Kittles

College of Science | Alumni Speaker Series

The Role of Diverse Populations in Personalized Medicine


Rick Kittles, Biology '89

April 30, 2012
2:00-3:00 pm
08 A300 - College of Science - Thomas Gosnell Hall


Rick Kittles received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from George Washington University in 1998. His first faculty appointment was at Howard University where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. 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.

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 "€œThe 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 five 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.

In March of 2012 Dr. Kittles presented the Keynote Address to the United Nations General Assembly, "€œInternational Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade."

Dr. Kittles has published over 100 research articles on prostate cancer genetics, Race and Genetics, and health disparities. Currently, Dr. Kittles is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Associate Director of the Cancer Center, and Director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.