Dunston is a professor and former chair of the Department of Microbiology, Howard University (HU) College of Medicine. She is the founding director of the National Human Genome Center (NHGC) at HU and Director of Molecular Genetics in the NHGC.
Dunston’s research on human genome variation in disease susceptibility and health disparities has been the vanguard of efforts at HU to build national and international research collaborations focusing on the genetics of diseases common in African Americans and other African Diaspora populations. Under Dunston’s leadership, the NHGC has been instrumental in bringing multicultural perspectives and resources to an understanding of knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project and research on human genome variation. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her academic accomplishments. She currently co-leads a newly formed biophysics research and development group at HU that is exploring functional aspects of common variation and population genetics from first principles of thermodynamics and statistical physics (i.e., “genodynamics”).1
Dunston has published extensively on genetic polymorphisms in human leukocyte antigens (HLA), the major histocompatibility system in humans, and other genetic markers of disease susceptibility in African Americans. She has served on the National Advisory Council for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Genetic Basis of Disease Review Committee for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences Review Committee on Human Genome Diversity Project.
Over the course of more than 30 years as a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology at HU College of Medicine, she has mentored hundreds of underrepresented minority students and scientists at all levels of education, including high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, postdocs, and new investigators. She received her PhD in human genetics from the University of Michigan in 1972.
1 Lindesay J, Mason TE, Ricks-Santi L, Hercules W, Kurian P, Dunston GM (2012) A new biophysical metric for interrogating the information content in human genome sequence variation: Proof of concept. J Comput Biol Bioinform Res 4, 15–22.