Office Address

420 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States



Associate Professor
Genetics, Cell Biology and Development

Dr. Zierhut studies ways to improve patients’ experiences to increase the impact of genetic counseling and help them lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Her research investigates the underlying skills used by genetic counselors and then connecting those skills to patients' reported outcomes to identify ways to improve patient experiences. She collaborates with community members and leaders to continuously evaluate better ways to do research and also provide better access to genetic counseling in diverse communities to decrease genetics related healthcare disparities.

Expand all

Research interests

Dr. Zierhut researches the psychosocial and public health implications involved with the provision of genetic counseling services. Heather’s current research is focused on familial hypercholesterolemia screening programs, implementations of genetic testing into primary care (e.g. pharmacogenetics), and access to genetic counseling in diverse communities to decrease genetics related healthcare disparities. 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 in 2014, and Strategic Leader in 2017.  She will serve a three year term on the Board of Directors from 2019-2021. 

Genetic Counseling graduate program
National Society of Genetic Counselors

Selected publications

Motivational interviewing genetic counseling intervention to increase cascade cholesterol screening in families of children with familial hypercholesterolemia - Intervention Manual  

Cragun, D. & Zierhut, H. Development of FOCUS-GC: Framework for Outcomes of Clinical Communication Services in Genetic Counseling. J. Genet Counsel. 2018, Feb;27(1):33-58.

Wurtmann E, Steinberger J, Veach PM, Khan M, Zierhut H. Risk Communication in Families of Children with Familial Hypercholesterolemia: Identifying Motivators and Barriers to Cascade Screening to Improve Diagnosis at a Single Medical Center. J Genet Couns. 2018; [epub ahead of print] doi:10.1007/s10897-018-0290-0.

Campbell M, Humanki J, Zierhut H. A novel approach to screening for familial hypercholesterolemia in a large public venue. J Community Genet. 2017; 8(1):35-44. doi: 10.1007/s12687-016-0285-1.

Madlensky L, Trepanier AM, Cragun D, Lerner B, Shannon KM, Zierhut H. A Rapid Systematic Review of Outcomes Studies in Genetic Counseling. J Genet Couns. 2017; 26(3):361-378. doi: 10.1007/s10897-017-0067-x.

Zierhut, H.A., McCarthy Veach, P., & Leroy, B.S. (2015) Canaries in the Coal Mine: Personal and Professional Impact of Undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing on Medical Professionals. American Journal of Medical Genetics. 2015 167A(11):2647-56. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.37262

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. J Genet Counsel. 2016; 25(2):239-57. doi: 10.1007/s10897-015-9864-2

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

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

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

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

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

Updated: 09/29/2019