Human Genetics

The Institute for Human Genetics is presently being provisionally headed by Prof. Dr. Peter Burfeind and Prof. Dr. Barbara Zoll. It is concerned with genetically determined diseases and offers patients with (congenital) heart defects genetic counseling and prenatal diagnostics.

A growing number of genetically determined diseases may be diagnosed at the level of the genetic substance (DNA). Such analyses can take place both before the birth (prenatal) or after the birth of a child (postnatal), and most any type of cell that contains a genetic nucleus is amenable to DNA analysis and isolation (e.g., blood or skin cells). The Institute for Human Genetics is capable of carrying out molecular genetic diagnostics of cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle) as well as examining patients with CHARGE syndrome, Noonan syndrome, Costello and DiGeorge syndromes. In addition, it offers a broad range of cytogenetic laboratory examinations.

The focal points of research of this institute lie, among other things, in tumor genetics, stem-cell research and the background of the CHARGE syndrome, a not uncommon dysmorphic syndrome in children.

Genetic counseling for patients and families

The Institute for Human Genetics offers specialized counseling to patients and their families in the presence of possible genetically determined diseases, when children are afflicted with a physical or mental disability, when difficulties arise at the beginning of a pregnancy or carrying the child to term causes problems, when there is a family history of cancer or when general insecurities are present concerning a genetic risk. During the counseling sessions, our staff strives to concretely define the genetic relevance to the disease in question and to make a statement concerning the risk of recurrence, the prognosis and the ramifications of therapy. Persons coming to our institute for advice should be put in the position to make a sound decision corresponding to their own lifestyle, state of family planning and necessity of further diagnostic tests. This genetic counseling is done directly at the Institute for Human Genetics or in cooperation with other departments of the University Medical Center Göttingen and the Social Pediatric Center Kassel.

The Institute for Human Genetics participates in the training of students of medicine, molecular medicine and other life sciences curricula. In addition, biological laboratory technicians receive training in the scope of the research carried out in this institute. Licensed physicians can also participate in further education to become specialists for human genetics. Biologists (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) may also participate in further education to become specialist human geneticists.

Prof. Dr. med. Bernd Wollnik
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