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Faculty Profile

Melissa A. Austin, M.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Austin is Professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the UW. She holds adjunct appointments in the Department of Bioethics and Humanities and in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition in the UW School of Medicine. Dr. Austin teaches PHG511/EPI517, Genetic Epidemiology, in the spring quarter

Dr. Austin served as founding Director of the UW Institute for Public Health Genetics from 1997 through 2011. With her leadership, and in collaboration with the Schools of Medicine, Law, Pharmacy, and Nursing, and the Washington State Department of Health, three entirely new interdisciplinary graduate degree programs in Public Health Genetics were created and implemented: an MPH, a Graduate Certificate, and a Ph.D. degree. With more than 130 graduates, the IPHG is nationally and internationally recognized as the leader in Public Health Genetics education.

Dr. Austin's research program focuses on the genetic epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer. Her NIH-funded projects have included studies of the genetics of lipoprotein disorders among hyperlipidemic families, the genetics of the metabolic syndrome among Japanese Americans, and candidate gene studies of pancreatic cancer. She is currently a co-investigator of the Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenetics Network.

In addition to her activities in the School of Public Health, Dr. Austin served as Associate Dean of the UW Graduate School from 2005 to 2007. In that role, she performed academic reviews of graduate programs, facilitated approvals of new graduate degree programs, and coordinated the interdisciplinary degree programs administered by the Graduate School.

Dr. Austin served on the Advisory Council for the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute from 2000 to 2004, and was an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association from 1994 to 1999. She was on sabbatical in 2001 with support from the International Atherosclerosis Society and the Department of Epidemiology. During that time, she was an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge attached to the Public Health Genetics Unit, and was a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Cardiovascular Genetics at University College London.