Rick Kittles, PhD, received a BS in biology from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989 and a PhD in biological sciences from George Washington University in 1998. He then helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. Currently, Kittles is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), as well as the associate director of the UIC Cancer Center.
Kittles is well known for his research of prostate cancer and health disparities among African Americans. He has also been at the forefront of the development of ancestry-informative genetic markers, and how genetic ancestry can be used to map genes for common traits and disease. His work on tracing the genetic ancestry of African Americans has brought light to many issues, new and old, which relate to race, ancestry, identity, and group membership.
Kittles’ high profile research and his strong ability to communicate genetic concepts and issues eloquently and understandably to the lay public has been featured over the past decade in five PBS and BBC network documentaries related to human biological diversity, race and disease. His work has been featured on CNN and the CBS show 60 Minutes where he was interviewed by Leslie Stahl. In addition to his research, he is scientific director and co-founder of African Ancestry, Inc., a private company that provides DNA testing services for tracing African genetic lineages to genealogists and the general public around the world. Kittles has published more than 85 research articles on prostate cancer in the African American population, race and genetics, and health disparities.