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Georgia M. Dunston, Ph.D.

Dr. Georgia Dunston is a professor in the College of Medicine at Howard University.  Dunston, who has been with the University since 1972, is also the former Chair of the Department of Microbiology.  Her research interests are the biomedical significance of genetic variation in African-Americans and dedication to increasing minority participation in human genetic research.  These interests led to the establishment of the Human Immunogenetics Laboratory at Howard in 1985, where she has served as founder and director of this core component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Research Centers in Minority Institutions Interdisciplinary Program.

Dunston has been instrumental in increasing knowledge on human leukocyte antigen (HLA) polymorphisms in African-Americans.  Her research examines the impact of population differences in HLA variation on donor/recipient matching in clinical transportation and gene-based differences in the immune response to organ transplants.  Dunston’s research on the biomedical significance of human genome polymorphisms has been the vanguard of current efforts at Howard University to build national and international research collaborations focusing on genome-wide studies of diseases common in both African-Americans and people in the African Diaspora.  This research has provided the scientific foundation for formation of the National Human Genome Center (NHGC) at Howard University with Dunston as the founding director.

In addition to her research and role as an educator, Dunston is a frequent speaker at universities and conferences throughout the U.S. and abroad; has several publications on HLA variation and disease associations in African-Americans; and has served on several national scientific councils and committees.  Dunston earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree in biology from Tuskegee University, and a PhD in human genetics from the University of Michigan.  She also conducted postdoctoral work in tumor immunology at NIH in the National Cancer Institute.

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