The research of Rick Kittles, Ph.D., addresses genetic and environmental contributions to disease risk and treatment outcomes. His laboratory utilizes state-of-the-art technology and novel methods to uncover genetic changes leading to cancer initiation, progression and treatment outcomes. Their focus has been on DNA sequence variation in well-characterized ethnically diverse cancer patient populations. They are now also exploring genetic changes in cancer due to vitamin D deficiency.
A major area of his research focus is on understanding the complex issues surrounding race, genetic ancestry and health disparities. Because of his training in human genetics and biological anthropology, he has had a strong interest in understanding the role of genetic ancestry in health and disease, and its utility in determining if genes account for the disease disparity. Over the last 10 years, his research accomplishments have been in quantifying and utilizing genetic ancestry in genomic studies on cancer risk and outcomes, impact of genetic variation across populations in pharmacogenomics, and biomarker discovery and disease gene mapping.