Human genetics involves the study of biological inheritance as it occurs in humans. It focuses on the human genes, the common determinant of most inherited biological traits in humans. The genetic information of each person is contained within 23 pairs of chromosomes, which are in turn contained in every human cell. The study of human genetics has diverse implications for various scientific fields, as well as for the law, public policy, ethics, and society. As such, genetics is a truly interdisciplinary field of research and application. Indeed, human genetics may be useful for understanding human environmental responses and behaviors—and even for resolving certain age-old puzzles surrounding “human nature.”
The sequencing of the human genome—which identified all of Homo sapiens’ genetic information—forever transformed the field of human genetics. Yet although sequencing yielded massive volumes of raw data, geneticists are now challenged with the formidable tasks of organizing and understanding the vast, invaluable genomic information. The knowledge that is ultimately produced in the process will revolutionize numerous aspects of human life. Many scientists and other observers are particularly enthusiastic about the implications for medicine since most facets of human health and illness have underlying genetic bases. As such, it is hoped that science and medicine will eventually be able to provide patient-specific prevention strategies and treatments. The new and steadily unfolding discoveries promise to greatly enhance human health and to greatly reduce human suffering.