Biobehavioral Health Alumni Profile: José R. Fernández, Ph.D.


B.S 1988 University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras
MA 1992 Teachers College - Columbia University
Ph.D. 1999 Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University

On the Ph.D. program, in his words:

It was the most rewarding and challenging academic experience of my life. The multidisciplinary nature of the program allowed me to explore multiple interests, and learn from multiple perspectives. By talking to doctoral students and faculty from other institutions I realized how powerful our training was. We were able to engage in conversations about behavioral measurements and methodology, switch to discuss molecular genetics and physiology, and turn around and talk to statisticians about advance statistical modeling and experimental design.

"The faculty was extremely supportive and created a family oriented environment where learning and excellence were paramount. We really worked hard, but we also play hard; it was a great balance that helped all of us to develop successful careers."

Current areas of professional interest are:

Identification of genes that contribute to racial differences in obesity and diabetes by using the genetic admixture approach as a tool to decompose the genetic, social and cultural components underlying racial and ethnic differences. Application of methods for QTL mapping and the use of linear statistical models to (a) identify genes in the population (b) identify gene-gene interactions and (c) identify the interaction of genes and environment

Current Position

Professor and Vice Chair for Education
Department of Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Ph.D. Thesis Title

Sex-Exclusiveness Quantitative Trait Loci for Alcohol Acceptance in Mice

Brief description: A study that explored sex differences in genetic influences in alcohol-related phenotypes by combining molecular, statistical and quantitative genetic techniques using three different populations of mice - recombinant inbred strains (RIs), second filial generation (F2), and genotypicly selected (GS) lines. Sex-exclusive genetic influences were identified in chromosomes 9 and 12 of the mouse genome, supporting the influence of sex-exclusive genetic contributions in alcohol acceptance in mice and recommending further experimentation of this phenomenon for the understanding of sex differences in alcohol-related phenotypes.

Ph.D. advisor

Gerald McClearn, Ph.D.