Teaching Activities in the Division of Genetics



See our program listings​ for American Board of Clinical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG) certified training in Clinical Molecular Genetics, Clinical Cytogenetics, and Clinical Biochemical Genetics.


See program listings​ for ABMS-certified Clinical Genetics fellowships in the UCSD Pediatrics Department.

The UCSD School of Medicine was founded in 1965, and from its very inception, UCSD established itself as a leader in the field of human genetics and medical genetics. The founding chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at UCSD was Dr. William Nyhan, renowned for his seminal work in the field of biochemical genetics, and after whom Lesch-Nyhan syndrome was named. In 1997, the UCSD School of Medicine became accredited for the training of clinical geneticists through the ACGME. Since that time, the program has continued to maintain an outstanding environment for the training of clinical genetics practitioners and academicians. With Dr. Albert La Spada as the Division Chief and now Genetics Program Director, the training program has been overhauled to broaden the scope of the resident experience to expand opportunities for exposure to adult inherited disease, including cancer genetics at the NCI Moore’s Cancer Center at UCSD. Through a number of significant changes to the organization of the training program curriculum, residents rotate through a variety of clinics at UCSD Medical Center and Rady Children’s Hospital, in which both children and adults are seen to counsel them about or evaluate them for the possibility of genetic disease. Indeed, one significant change to the training program since the last site visit is the addition of two participating sites to further enhance the range and diversity of patients and practice environments to which trainees will be exposed. These two sites, the Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Kaiser-Permanente Healthcare System, are staffed by board-certified clinical geneticists who hold affiliate faculty appointments in the Genetics Division and are actively involved in didactic training of residents, fellows, and medical students.

Another distinguishing feature of the UCSD Genetics Training Program is its emphasis on providing its residents with unparalleled opportunities to engage in cutting edge basic research, translational investigation, or clinical studies. This philosophy is supported by a training program curriculum that provides at least 

80% protected time for research during 6 months of a trainee’s second year, and encourages an optional third year to further immerse the trainee in such an academic undertaking. The strength and diversity of such academic opportunities in genetics and genomics at UCSD is underscored by the recent creation of a new Institute for Genomic Medicine, comprised of 21 faculty members who are engaged in clinical and basic research that spans the field of human genetics. In addition to assuring that trainees receive outstanding clinical training and are given wonderful opportunities for basic research, the UCSD program also includes extensive laboratory genetics services that allow residents to rotate in Biochemical Genetics, Cytogenetics, and Molecular Diagnostics. This combination of a long-standing tradition of excellence and staffing by incredibly accomplished clinicians, coupled with exciting developments in both our clinical training and basic research environment, indicates that UCSD has never been a better place to pursue advanced training in genetics.

Current Clinical Genetics Fellows:

Jaime Barea, MD

Lawrence Wong, MD


Bruce A. Barshop, MD, PhD
Teaching is an integral part of the popular elective rotation in Genetics and Metabolism which brings Pediatrics residents  from  UCSD  and  Balboa Naval Hospital  to  our Dysmorphology and Metabolic  Clinics at RCHSD; a third year medical student is usually present as well. In addition to that venue for direct personal instruction, didactic sessions are presented at the RCHSD Resident Noon Lectures, and Dr. Barshop covers those sessions relating to metabolic diseases. Dr. Barshop lectures in the School of Medicine, including a session of Biomedical Science 223 on the topic of Newborn Screening and a session of Cell Biology and Biochemistry on the topic of Treatment of Genetic Disease, and he participates in the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) to second-year medical students. He has mentored undergraduate students in independent study projects. Dr. Barshop typically speaks at several conferences of medical professionals each year at UCSD, RCHSD, and other institutions in the area.

Craig L. Bennett, PhD
Dr. Bennett joined the Division in July, and served as a substitute small group instructor for reorganized ‘Genetics in Medicine’ course for medical school and pharmacy school students. He is also involved in the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are pursuing research training in neurogenetics.

Lynne M. Bird, MD
Dr. Bird serves as a mentor and preceptor to the Genetics residents. She participates regularly in Case Conferences, Morning Report, Resident CPC activities, Professor Rounds and Grand Rounds. For most of the year, a third-year UCSD medical student participates in one of her half-day clinics. She is also involved in resident training through the Dysmorphology clinic in Mexico. Dr. Bird presents an average of four lectures per year to residents and faculty, as part of the Noon Conference series for the Pediatric residents and medical students, Noon Conference series for the UCSD NICU and Newborn nursery, the UCSD/SDSU Preventive Medicine residency, and invited lectures to various community hospitals. Dr. Bird serves as a preceptor for the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course and administers OSCE examinations to second-year medical students. For the past several years, she has been a preceptor for summer internships for premedical students, and also became involved in the UCSD Medical Scholars Clinical Rotation program. Since 2009, she has served as a small group instructor in the reorganized ‘Genetics in Medicine’ course for medical school and pharmacy school students, and now she is an active lecturer in the Medical Genetics didactic training course.

Stephanie Cherqui, PhD
Dr. Cherqui currently mentors 2 post-doctoral fellows and 1 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) intern participating to the CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program. She is lecturing in the Medical Genetics didactic course and assisting with teaching genetics to the medical students in small group sessions.

Theodore Friedmann, MD
Dr. Friedmann is a member of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs and has served for a number of years on the Biomedical Sciences Minor Proposition Committees. He has recently served as chair of the thesis committee of one BMS student, as a member of several other thesis committees and has chaired and served on a number of BMS minor proposition committees. He lectures in a number of graduate and elective courses and has presented a yearly seminar course on biomedical ethics. Dr. Friedmann gives several lectures throughout the world.

Marilyn C. Jones, MD
Dr. Jones has served as program director for the ABMG Fellowship Program and the Medical Genetics Residency Program. Twice a week Dr. Jones supervises a third-year UCSD medical student in history taking, physical examination, and counseling. UCSD Pediatrics and Med/Peds residents participate in outpatient clinics, as well as the cleft and craniofacial programs when they are on their genetics elective. The pediatric dental residents rotate monthly through Dr. Jones’ cleft palate and craniofacial clinics, and the dental residents each spend a day seeing general genetics patients during their two-year residency. Dr. Jones continues to mentor medical students from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California at the Hospital Infantil de las Californias. Since 2009, she has served as a small group instructor in the reorganized ‘Genetics in Medicine’ course for medical school and pharmacy school students. Dr. Jones presents an average of four specialty conferences a year to UCSD students and residents, as well as one Grand Rounds presentation annually at UCSD or an affiliated hospital. She is an active participant in the bi-monthly Fetal Diagnosis Conference at UCSD, and in teaching our fellows in the Medical Genetics didactic course.


Albert R. La Spada, MD, PhD
Dr. La Spada took over the organization of the Genetics in Medicine course in 2009 with Dr. Haddad. This course, which is given to first year medical students and second year pharmacy students, is the only formal integrated genetics course that UCSD professional students receive. Drs. La Spada and Haddad reorganized the course to incorporate small group case discussions coordinated by sets of instructors. Dr. La Spada organized a clinical genetics monthly meeting, and instructs Pediatrics residents and fellows in this venue and other teaching forums at Rady Children’s Hospital. In 2012, Dr. La Spada organized the Medical Genetics didactic course, which meets weekly during the academic year and is intended for first or second year clinical fellows whose specialty relies upon Genetics for patient care. Dr. La Spada is also involved in teaching BMS graduate students and Neurosciences graduate students at UCSD.

Fred Levine, MD, PhD
Dr. Levine is a member of the Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Pathology Graduate Programs. Currently, he has one Biomedical Sciences and one Bioengineering PhD student in the lab. He gives lectures in graduate courses, including Molecular Neurobiology Cell and Tissue Engineering, and Gene Therapy.


Alysson Muotri, PhD
Dr. Muotri has managed to take on numerous teaching responsibilities. In addition to mentoring a prodigious number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Muotri co-directs the Neurological Diseases block of the introductory BIOM 200 course for entering BMS graduate students, and serves as instructor and course co-organizer for an advanced BISP194 seminar course for UCSD undergraduates, entitled, "Molecular basis of neurological disease". Dr. Muotri also teaches in the following courses: BIOM252 (Human Genetics and Genomics); BIOM225 (Introduction to Anthropogeny); BGGN231 (Current concepts in stem cell biology); NEU221 (Stem Cells and Neurological Disorders); BIOM/PHARM234 (Careers in Biomedical Sciences); and CMM250 (Core course in stem cell biology, medicine and ethics).

Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD
Dr. Naviaux teaches Biomedical Sciences 223, Human Genetics and Metabolism, and lectures on Mitochondrial Medicine as part of SOMC 229, Endocrinology, Reproduction, and Metabolism (ERM). BMS 223 is offered in the spring and is designed for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and elective medical students with an interest in the genetics of human disease. ERM 229 is a core course given every spring. Dr. Naviaux gives lectures and grand rounds presentation around the world, most recently at Leiden University, the Netherlands, Vanderbilt University, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, and Manipal University, India. In addition, Dr. Naviaux directs the research of three undergraduate students and a master’s student currently on rotation in the lab.

William L. Nyhan, MD, PhD
Dr. Nyhan participates in the Metabolic Clinics at Rady Children’s Hospital, instructing Pediatrics residents from UCSD and Balboa Naval Hospital and medical students. He has also lectured in Biomedical Sciences 223 on Disorders of Purine Metabolism.

Mary J. Willis, MD
Dr. Willis coordinates all Genetics training activities at Balboa Naval Hospital for the residents, Physician Assistant students, and medical students of UCSD and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.