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Learn Genetics Online

Understand the building blocks of life – and the future of medicine.

The way we diagnose and treat diseases is changing, with new technologies enabled by a deeper understanding of the human genome and its relationship to health and disease.

In HMX Fundamentals Genetics, you’ll get an overview of fundamental concepts behind the evolving fields of human genetics, genomics, and precision medicine.

This online certificate course is led by Harvard Medical School faculty and features:

  • detailed animations and illustrations of medical concepts
  • clinical application videos including real doctor-patient interactions
  • ongoing, rigorous assessments to ensure content mastery

Learn more about the course:

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Course Information

Upcoming course periods

April 9 – June 21, 2024 | Apply now through March 19
Partial tuition waiver application deadline: Tuesday, March 5 at 12 noon US ET (HMX Fundamentals only)

June 4 – August 16, 2024 | Application opens March 20
September 3 – November 15, 2024 | Application opens May 15

Course length

Each course is 10 weeks long. New lessons are released weekly, and material remains available until the course closes. Expect to spend 3-6 hours per course per week.

Course cost

US$800 for an individual course

Partial tuition waivers are available.

What Learners Say

David Hall

David Hall


“I do a little bit of learning through osmosis in my job, because we do analysis on genetic data, so I learn kind of as I go. But this has helped push me forward greatly – this was awesome.”

Ana De Pina

Ana de Pina

University of New England College of Medicine

“The HMX Genetics course just made a huge difference for me…It was explained really well, the review questions were challenging enough to really make me think about it. I learned new things that I never knew before.”

Dr. Jacques Balayla

Jacques Balayla, MD

“I found that the way [HMX] organized the course was just the right approach; it makes sense cohesively without going into too much unnecessary detail or too much memorization. Though I was not completely new to the topic, it felt like I was learning again because of the way that it was provided.”

Course Topics


  • Course introduction
  • Meet the faculty
  • Introduction to the human genome

The Central Dogma and Genetic Variation

  • The relationship between genotype and phenotype
  • Structure of a human gene and the effects of genetic variation

Mendelian Inheritance of Disease

  • Meiotic segregation
  • Modes of inheritance
  • Pedigree analysis
  • Penetrance and expressivity

Identifying Mendelian Disease Genes

  • Haplotypes and linkage studies
  • Determining causation of a variant
  • Targeted genetic testing

Chromosomal Aberrations

  • DNA segregation machinery
  • Whole chromosome and structural aneuploidy
  • Diagnostic techniques for chromosomal disorders

The Genetics of Cancer

  • Germline and somatic mutations
  • Tumor suppressors and oncogenes
  • Two hit hypothesis
  • Precision cancer treatments

Common Complex Traits

  • Architecture of a complex trait
  • Genome-wide association studies
  • Heritability and missing heritability
  • Understanding risk in common complex traits

Human Population Genetics

  • Emergence and history of human traits
  • Evolutionary forces and population dynamics
  • Ancestry testing and population-specific risk

Beyond the Genome Sequence

  • Mitochondrial inheritance
  • Unstable repeats
  • Epigenetic inheritance and imprinting
  • Gene dosage and X-inactivation

Genetics and Precision Medicine

  • Whole genome sequencing
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Genome editing

Course Instructors

Christine DeGennaro, HMX Genetics course lead

Christine DeGennaro, PhD

Lecturer in Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Robert Green, HMX Genetics instructor

Robert C. Green, MD, MPH

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associate Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Geneticist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Director, Genomes2People Research Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Carrie Blout, HMX Genetics instructor

Carrie Blout, MS, CGC, LGC

Senior Genetic Counselor and Project Manager, Brigham & Women’s Hospital