The Department of Human Genetics has American Board of Medical Genetics accredited training programs in clinical molecular genetics and clinical cytogenetics. The training programs have a wide range of clinical and research activities including orphan disease diagnostics, genotype-phenotype correlation studies, cancer genetics, translation of new gene discoveries for diagnostic purposes, technology development, centromere delineation, chromosome structure and function studies, and phenotype/karyotype studies. In addition, other research interests in the department include complex disease genetics, gene mapping, human gene variation and evolution and neurogenetics. 

Dr. Alkhateeb completed his molecular genetics fellowship at the University of Chicago in 2006.  He currently heads up the molecular diagnostic laboratory at Shafallah Medical Genetics Center in Doha, Qatar.

When and why did you first decide that you wanted to pursue ABMG accredited clinical molecular genetics training at the University of Chicago?

I first decided I wanted to pursue clinical molecular genetics training before I began my PhD. It was during my Masters program where I worked on an autosomal recessive disease and I met with the families. I thought at that time about how genetics science can help those families. Providing diagnosis, carrier detection, and genetic counseling is a way of translating our scientific knowledge into applications that can directly help society. Approaching the end of my PhD I started looking at different programs offering clinical molecular training.  I applied to multiple places and one of the first to offer an interview was the University of Chicago. I was so excited since I’ve been to Chicago before when my brother was doing his PhD. I was fascinated with the city, the multicultural activities and the so many things it offers. Joining the University of Chicago was a dream coming true. When I first met Dr. Das, she was so warm hearted, gentle, young and full of energy. Instantly I loved the place and all the people I met at that day, and the rest is history.

Tell me about what you have been doing since you left the University of Chicago in 2006?

Because of my visa limitations, I had to leave the United States after I finished my training. I felt sad since I wanted to stay and have more exposure. I returned to my home country –Jordan – where I worked as an assistant professor at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. I worked in research and taught human genetics-related classes. After 6 years, I had my chance to work as a head of the molecular diagnostic laboratory in Shafallah Medical Genetics center in Qatar. This lab is CAP-accredited and among the few offering genetic tests for multiple genetic diseases. I am enjoying my time here utilizing the vast experience I obtained at the University of Chicago.

How has the fellowship program prepared you for your current position?

Of course my experience during the fellowship was the key for my current position. Soma’s vision in leadership and smooth directorship of the Genetics lab at the University of Chicago was illuminating in my work at Shafallah center. The personnel at the University of Chicago lab were so organized and dedicated. I am trying to model the organizational structure of Soma’s lab in my current lab.

What do you miss most about Chicago?

The people. I had two years of wonderful experiences with the people in the lab. Chicago as a city was glamorous and culturally very rich. Every weekend we had an activity in the city, from the museum of fine arts, to the Chicago botanic gardens, to navy pier, … the list is so long. Downtown Chicago was the sweetest.

Any memorable anecdotes or stories from your time here?

A pleasant moment I had after 4 months arriving in Chicago, I had my first son. All the people in lab and Dr. Das came to see the newborn in the hospital. It was one of the best moments ever.