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Heather Zierhut

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Heather Zierhut
Assistant Professor


Genetic Counseling graduate program

National Society of Genetic Counselors

Research interests

Heather Zierhut’s major area of interest focuses on the education and clinical preparation of Genetic Counseling professionals as well as the implications of genetics on public health. She is the associate director of the Graduate Program of Study in Genetic Counseling, which offers a Master of Science degree in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and genetics with an emphasis of study in genetic counseling. This two-year graduate program integrates didactic course work in molecular and human and behavioral genetics, psychosocial counseling and bioethics with first hand medical genetics laboratory and clinical genetics experience. Students gain genetic counseling skills through direct patient contact at the University of Minnesota Medical Center as well as a wide variety of other clinical settings throughout the Twin Cities and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Zierhut is also interested in the psychosocial and public implications involved with the provision of genetic counseling services. Her previous research has focused on decision making of parents of children with Fanconi Anemia regarding Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis combined with HLA-typing. Heather’s current research is focused on genetics in public health screening programs, implementations of whole genome sequencing, and outcomes of genetic counseling. Heather is an active member in the National Society of Genetic Counseling and has been recognized by her peers as a recipient of the New Leader Award in 2009, Outstanding Volunteer and Janus Series speaker in 2014.

Recent publications

Zierhut, H.A., McCarthy Veach, P., & Leroy, B.S. Canaries in the Coal Mine: Personal and Professional Impact of Undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing on Medical Professionals. American Journal of Medical Genetics. [Epub ahead of print]

Redlinger-Grosse, K., McCarthy Veach, P., Cohen, S., LeRoy, B.S., MacFarlane, I.M., & Zierhut, H.  Defining Our Clinical Practice: The Identification of Genetic Counselor Outcomes Utilizing the Reciprocal Engagement Model. Journal of Genetic Counseling [Epub ahead of print]

Zierhut, H. A., Tryon, R., Sanborn, E. (2014). Genetic Counseling for Fanconi Anemia: Crosslinking disciplines. J Genet Counsel 23 (6): 910-921.

Zierhut, H. A. and K. Schneider-Wolfe (2014). Stem Cell Transplantation: Genetic Counselors as a Critical Part of the Process. Current Genet Med Rep 2 (2): 39-47.

Zierhut, H. A., MacMillan, M.L., Wagner, J.E. & D.M. Bartels (2013). More than 10 Years After the First 'Savior Siblings': Parental Experiences Surrounding Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. (2013) Journal of Genetic Counseling 22 (5): 594-602.  

Zierhut, H. A., & Bartels, D. M. (2012). Waiting for the next shoe to drop: The experience of parents of children with fanconi anemia. Journal of Genetic Counseling 21(1): 45-58.

Zierhut, H., and J. Austin (2011). How inclusion of genetic counselors on the research team can benefit translational science. Science Translational Medicine 3(74): 74-76.


Phone Number
Email Address

MCB 5-116
420 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455