What is Public Health Genetics?

Public health genetics applies genetic and genomic information to improve public health and prevent disease.

Programs that make up public health genetics include, but are not limited to: educating healthcare providers, patients and their families, the general public, and policymakers on genetics; providing genetic services (such as newborn screening or cancer screening); providing guidance on laws and regulations that affect individuals with genetic conditions; and much more.

Highlighted below is the framework for public health genetics. Additionally, we have included resources that further describe public health and genetics.

Closed captioning is available in English and Spanish.

Adapted from ASTHO’s “Framework for Public Health Genetics Policies and Practices in State and Local Public Health Agencies”. View the framework here.

New 2021 Resource

In April 2021, Genome Medicine published a special issue highlighting “The impact of genomics on precision public health”. Articles included in this special issue,  guest edited by Dr Muin Khoury from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by Dr Kathryn Holt from Monash University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, highlight the impact of genetic screening, epidemiology, and research on public health.

Explore the Issue Here

Public Health and Genetics 101

Public Health

Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public, and private communities, and individuals” – CEA Winslow (CDC)

From the CDC.

Learn More:
  • Public Health 101 Series (CDC)
  • Public Health Key Terms (CDC)
  • What is Public Health? (APHA)


Genetics is “a branch of biology that deals with heredity and variation of organisms”. (Merriam-Webster)

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Genomics is “the study of the entire genome (all of a person’s genes) and the interaction of these genes with each other and with the person’s environment.” (Genome.gov)

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