The Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

by Elizabeth Goodwin

Prior to taking my current position at the pharmaceutical firm Sepracor Inc., I spent six years with the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). As Assistant Professor, and subsequently as Associate Professor, I oversaw a research lab of about five graduate students. I also taught genetics and molecular biology at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and was on the RNA Society Board as Editor of the academic journal, RNA.

The UW-Madison genetics department dates back to its establishment in 1910, as part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. At that time, the program was highly innovative, as there were no similar departments in the U.S. The Laboratory of Genetics is currently composed of two academic departments, the Department of Genetics in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the Department of Medical Genetics in the School of Medicine and Public Health. These two distinct programs are merged into one administrative unit as part of the Laboratory of Genetics.

The laboratory’s faculty consists of nearly 30 specialists, encompassing all areas of human genetic and agricultural genetic research. The Laboratory of Genetics offers comprehensive graduate research opportunities in molecular genetics, genomics, gene expression, cancer genetics, and more. Entrance into the Department of Genetics graduate program is highly selective, with only 20 percent of applicants gaining admittance.

A UW-Madison initiative that I applaud is the James F. Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution, which brings together researchers spanning the fields of genetics, anthropology, microbiology, biochemistry, zoology, agronomy, botany, and geology. These faculty and graduate scholars explore common issues of ecology and evolution. I highly recommend the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a school offering a top-tier genetics research program. To learn more about the UW-Madison Department of Genetics, visit