Genomics Special Focus Area

The Human Genome Project, an international quest to understand the genomes of humans and other organisms, is leading to unprecedented advances in science and healthcare. Individual variations in the human genome can have a major impact on risk for disease and responses to the environmental, behaviors, drugs, and other therapies.­­­

The growing momentum of genomics (the study of genes and their function) is revolutionizing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of disease, including the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors.

Nurses are called upon by patients and families to answer questions about genetic information, testing, and treatments. Technology is advancing so rapidly in genetics that health care delivery is already affected. For example, screening for pharmacogenetic profiles can predict if an individual is likely to benefit from a medicine and/or if they will be likely to experience serious side effects.

Given the changing nature of healthcare as a result of the human genome project and subsequent scientific advances, a number of essential genetic and genomic competencies for nurses have been established.

The Genomics special focus area at UC San Francisco School of Nursing provides a spectrum of content related to human genomics and clinical implications for nurses. There are 3 required courses. Additional clinical practicum and/or laboratory experience is available on a case-by-case basis.

Nurses are called upon by patients and families to answer questions about genetic information, testing, and treatments.


Students from all Master's program specialties and the doctoral program are welcome to register for these courses. Courses must be taken in sequence and may be taken during the first or second year of the Master’s program. N294C is the only course that may be taken without pre-requisites for those not completing this special focus area but interested in additional genomics content. The courses meet approximately 4-5 times each quarter on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7. The format is a lecture (~45 minutes), questions for the lecturer (~10 minutes), and student discussion (~30 minutes). Other weeks consist of online content.

Required courses:

  • N294A Introduction to Human Genomics (2 units, Fall)
    • Genetic structure and function, patterns of inheritance, lab methods, epigenetics, human genome project, Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.
  • N294B Implications of Genomics for Nursing Practice (2 units, Winter)
    • Genomic competencies for nurses, ethical, legal, and social issues, family history and pedigree assessment, direct to consumer testing, whole genome sequencing in research and practice, Precision Medicine Initiative.
  • N294C Clinical Genomics (1 unit, Spring)
    • Clinical applications across the lifespan – prenatal testing, newborn screening, pharmacogenetics, screening, cancer, complex diseases, aging, microbiome.

Optional courses:

  • 414.27A Genomics Clinical Practicum (1 – 3 units, Varies)
    • Supervised experience using skills of genomics assessment, interventions, and/or management.
  • 301.27A Genomics Skills Lab (1 unit, Varies)
    • Supervised experience in a molecular laboratory.


Elena Flowers, PhD, RN