The University of Arizona Health Sciences

Rick Kittles, PhD

Dr. Kittles’ has a strong commitment to mentoring students in his laboratory, including high school and undergraduate students; graduate, medical and post-baccalaureate students; and post-doctoral fellows and residents.

Prior to joining the UA, Dr. Kittles was with the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was director of the Institute of Human Genetics; associate director of the Office of Health Equity at the University of Illinois Cancer Center; and associate professor in the Department of Medicine and Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health. He also was associate director for diversity and community relations with the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center and held appointments with the Department of Human Genetics and the Graduate Committee on Cancer Biology Program, Biological Sciences Division, and with the Department of Medicine, Section of Genetic Medicine, The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He has been principal investigator on studies of prostate cancer and disparities funded by the National Institutes of Health.

He has been an invited lecturer at conferences and institutions, both nationally and internationally, and has served on numerous peer-review panels, including the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Environmental Health Science, National Human Genome Research Institute and Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program in Prostate Cancer. He is currently the Chair of Minorities in Cancer Research, AACR.

He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including theGrio’s “100 Making History Today, Class of 2013”; the 2012 Black History Maker Award from the University of Illinois at Chicago Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Blacks; Ebony magazine’s 2010 “Power 100”; the 2008 Genetic Research Excellence Award, one of The Prostate Net® “In the Know Awards,” recognizing efforts to eliminate health disparities; the Gondobay Manga Foundation’s 2009 Chairman’s Honoree; the 2009 American Scholars Inaugural Ball Honoree; and N’DIGO magazine’s 2009 N’Medicine Award. In March 2012, he delivered the keynote address at the United Nations General Assembly’s “International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.”

He is author of more than 160 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and several book chapters. 

Research Interests

Dr. Kittles’ research interests include prostate cancer risk and the role of genes and environment. His work on understanding the role of vitamin D in aggressive prostate cancer may lead to better treatments and prevention. His laboratory is focused on identifying genetic and environmental contributions to cancer risk and treatment outcomes, including understanding the complex issues surrounding race, genetic ancestry and health disparities.

  • National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health & Howard University College of Medicine, Human Genome Research Associate/ Postdoctoral Fellow, 1998-1999

Contact Information

(520) 626-8003
Room Number:


  • Director, Division of Population Genetics, Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine
  • Professor, Cancer Biology, GIDP
  • Professor, Public Health
  • Professor, Surgery
Primary department: Surgery


BS: Rochester Institute of Technology, Biological Sciences, 1989
PhD: George Washington University, Biological Sciences, 1998


  • Surgery