Laura Hercher

Director of Research, Human Genetics

BA, Colgate. MA, Columbia University. MS, Sarah Lawrence College. In addition to coordinating all of the student research projects, she is also the director of the Ethics course and is facilitator of our Current Events/Monday Afternoon Discussion series. Laura is the co-founder of and regular contributor to The DNA Exchange, as well as the author of Anybody’s Miracle. SLC, 2004–

Graduate Courses

Human Genetics 2019-2020


Graduate Seminar—Fall

The Ethics course covers the principles of medical ethics and their application in the field of genetic counseling. The significance of current and historical examples of eugenics and how past abuses affect the clinical practices of genetic medicine today are explored. Through a combination of lecture and discussion, the class reviews hot-button issues such as abortion, “designer babies,” and genetic engineering. The course also covers legal and ethical dilemmas with specific relevance to genetics, including genetic discrimination, the genetic testing of minors, and the extent of a genetic clinician’s responsibility to biological relatives.


Previous Courses

Research Methods

Graduate Seminar—Spring

The Research Methods course serves as an introduction to the thesis process, which culminates in the writing of a thesis manuscript in the second year. Students are encouraged to become better consumers of the scientific literature—including the use of search engines, a reference program, and critical reading skills—in the construction of a literature review as a first step toward study design and publication. The course includes a review of qualitative and quantitative research models; development of surveys, focus groups, and questionnaires; and the basics of data analysis and working in SPSS.