Darrel J. Waggoner, M.D., FACMG is the Medical Director of the UCGS and Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Waggoner specializes in the treatment of metabolic and genetic disorders in children and adults. He sees patients in the Medical Genetics, Craniofacial, and Neurogenetics Clinics, and provides genetics consultation services for patients within the University of Chicago Medicine. As director of the clinical and laboratory genetics training program at the University of Chicago, and the medical genetics course in the Pritzker School of Medicine, Dr. Waggoner is involved in curriculum development and teaching for medical students and residents.

EDITOR (ED):What initially attracted you to this discipline? 

DJW: I went to undergrad at St. Louis University and afterwards worked for several years in a research lab in genetics as a research tech.  During that time period I was exposed to genetics both on a research and clinical basis. I befriended all the fellows and nutritionists while I was in the research lab and would spend a lot of time with them and became very interested in medicine as a career, and genetics in particular. So, based on those experiences I went to medical school at Washington University and then eventually went on to do pediatrics residency training at the University of Chicago and a chief resident year at the University of Chicago. I returned to do genetics fellowship training at Washington University to the original lab that I had started in with same group of people. I spent one clinical year and three postdoc years in the lab, in human genetics, and became board certified in medical genetics through the American Board of Medical Genetics. I started my first faculty position here at the University of Chicago and have been here ever since.

ED: The field of molecular diagnostic testing is moving forward at a rapid pace.  What do you think is the greatest challenge facing molecular diagnostic testing now and in the near future?

DJW: I think the biggest challenge facing molecular diagnostic testing is clinical interpretation in the setting of advancing technology. Technological advances are now outpacing the ability to know how to effectively interpret the results and provide clinical correlation.

ED: What’s the best part of your job?

DJW: The opportunity and challenge to be involved in a wide range of activities in the academic setting including clinical practice, education of medical students, residents and graduate students, research, and administrative responsibilities.

ED: When you are not at work, you are…

DJW: Outside of work I like to be involved in my children’s lives and activities, be in the outdoors as much as possible and enjoy climbing, hiking, camping and backpacking, and exercising.