A critical, unbiased introduction to using new genomic tools for diagnosing and managing disease.

About the Course

Precision medicine has the potential to change fundamentally how health care is practiced, but requires a health care workforce that understands the complexities of this field. One important component of Precision Medicine is the use of an individual’s genomic information to offer targeted treatment, tailored to the individual. Our course aims to provide participants with some baseline knowledge of genomics, an overview of the clinical applications of genomic medicine, the skills to evaluate the clinical validity and utility of new tests, and an appreciation of the associated ethical and social issues inherent in this field.

The course is geared toward practicing health care providers, although it should be accessible to anyone with a background in the biological sciences and a basic understanding of genetics.  It is designed to be succinct and clinically-focused, offering both conceptual and practical information about real-world applications of genomics.  The first two lessons offer a basic primer on molecular genomics relevant to the individual patient as well as to patient populations. The remaining five lessons focus on five applications of genomics and present the material as case studies, highlighting the strengths, limitations, and issues that arise in the use of each test.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: New insights into the structure of the human genome and different types of genetic and non-genetic variation that occur

Week 2: Methods used in patient populations to uncover associations between genome variation and diseases/drug response

Week 3: Predictive tests for common, complex diseases and their role in disease management. Aspects of direct-to-consumer testing are also discussed.

Week 4: Pharmacogenomic testing for drug selection, dosing and predicting adverse effects of commonly prescribed drugs

Week 5: The use of genomics in the reproductive setting: carrier testing, non-invasive prenatal screening, prenatal diagnosis of Mendelian diseases, and newborn screening,

Week 6: The use of next-generation sequencing for solving diagnostic dilemmas

Week 7: Tumor profiling for targeting cancer treatment and the use of blood-based gene expression profiles in cancer prognosis

Recommended Background

Students should have some background in biology/medicine, and have a basic understanding of genetics.

Course Format

Each week will consist of a minimum of two hours of work for students to complete: 60 minutes of video lectures, 30 minutes of readings, and 30 minutes of assessments.


  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will have the opportunity to receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • Is this class eligible for Signature Track?

Yes. Prior to the beginning of the class, and during the first two weeks, students may sign up for Signature Track to earn a Verified Certificate. Details on Signature Track are available from Coursera in their Signature Track Guidebook.

  • Will Continuing Education credit for practicing physicians be available for this class?

Please check back closer to when the class begins to find out whether Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits will be available for this course.


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