Morehouse School of Medicine Establishes Institute of Translational Genomic Medicine

New MSM research institute is the only genomic medicine center of its kind in the U.S. currently operating at a Historically Black College or University.

ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 28, 2024Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is excited to announce the creation of its new Institute of Translational Genomic Medicine (ITGM). The institute is the only genomic medicine center in the U.S. currently operating at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and will be the national hub for genetic information on people of African descent.

“Health disparities and the underrepresentation of minority scientists are two of the most compelling challenges facing the field of biomedicine,” said Morehouse School of Medicine President and CEO Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG. “Our commitment to the communities that we serve is one of our top priorities. Through this institute, we are poised to provide increased access to cutting-edge research and treatments as MSM leads in the creation and advancement of health equity to achieve health justice.”

The ITGM will provide expertise in next generation sequencing and bioinformatics for the research centers and institutes at Morehouse School of Medicine, partnering with researchers to analyze the genomes of African Americans. The resulting genomic information will be used to develop new diagnostic and treatment tools to fight disease. In addition, the ITGM will provide genomic expertise and training through partnerships and collaborations with HBCUs nationally and other institutions around the world.

“Genomic research has ushered in a new era in the science and praxis of preserving, restoring, and prolonging human health,” said MSM Senior Vice President for Research Rick Kittles, PhD. “Morehouse School of Medicine’s proven track record and dedicated purpose give us a uniquely positioned perspective to improve the rigor of genomics research and broaden the applications of genomic medicine for underserved communities. The establishment of the ITGM will

encourage partnership between the world-class researchers at MSM and other distinguished scientists who focus on the genetics of complex diseases that disproportionally impact people of African descent.”

A noted researcher and health disparities expert, Dr. Kittles joined MSM in July 2022 from City of Hope in Duarte, California, where he was a professor, the founding director of the Division of Health Equities within the Department of Population Sciences, and associate director of health equities in City of Hope’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. His first faculty appointment was at Howard University, where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. Dr. Kittles is co-founder of African Ancestry, Inc., a private company that provides DNA testing services for tracing African genetic lineages to genealogists and the general public around the world.

Cancer geneticist Dr. Melissa Davis serves as the inaugural ITGM director, in collaboration with associate director Dr. Robert Meller. A leader in transformative research, patient advocacy, and global health equity, Dr. Davis is a Distinguished Investigator with the Georgia Research Alliance. She also serves as Scientific Director of the International Center for the Study of Breast Cancer Subtypes (ICSBCS), Interim Director of Health Equity for the Englander Institute of Precision Medicine, and Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, NY. She is also a Cancer Ethnicity Scholar, co-leading the PolyEthnic-1000 project at the New York Genome Center.

Dr. Davis is an active mentor, hosting student and faculty mentor training on health disparities for clinicians, and training undergraduate and graduate students in dual wet and dry lab capacities. She is a scientific advocacy partner for minoritized patient populations, serving on several advisory boards for national organizations and industry partners as they establish global health equity and patient engagement platforms for emerging health disparities initiatives.

The goals of the ITGM are two-fold, to provide genomic research capacity to MSM researchers across the existing research centers and institutes, and to provide leadership and increase our knowledge of genetic variation across the African diaspora and its impact on heath and disease.

To date, Morehouse School of Medicine has leveraged funding from partners such as the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative’s Accelerate Precision Health program and the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) to recruit visionary faculty members as well as pre- and post-doctoral fellows with genomics expertise and a commitment to advancing health equity.

For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, please visit

About Morehouse School of Medicine

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission — the creation and advancement of health equity. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.


Jamille Bradfield
Director, External Communications, Media Relations & Crisis Communications
Morehouse School of Medicine