DNA Today: A Genetics Podcast
Summary: The radio show/podcast educates the public on genetic and public health topics through event coverage, news stories, book/movie reviews, and interviews. Guest include genetic counselors, researchers, patient advocates and professors in the field of genetics.
Dr. Susan Capasso is the Genetic Counseling Program Director at Bay Path University, a new online program graduate level program. She was previously the vice-president of academic affairs, dean of faculty and the chief academic officer of St. Vincent’s College. She received her B.A. at the University of Vermont, M.S. from Georgetown University, and Ed.D. from the University of Hartford. Dr. Capasso is also a licensed and certified genetic counselor and served as a Genetic Counselor at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. In this episode, we discuss aspects of genetic counseling and getting kids excited about STEM fields. Dr. Capasso shares her personal career path into genetic counseling and how this journey differs between genetic counselors. We discuss the skills required to be a genetic counselor and what roles and responsibilities they carry. The episode wraps up with recommendations and advice for those pursuing the field of genetic counseling.
Over the weekend, geneticists, genetic counselors, professors, researchers and students gathered at the University of Connecticut to learn about a new genetic editing technology that has taken over labs and stolen headlines, CRISPR. UCONN hosted "The Impact of CRISPR on Imprinting Disorders" featuring presentations from Christopher Stoddard, Dr. Marc Lalande, Dr. Stormy Chamberlain, Dr. Michael O'Neill among others. Chris Stoddard, who operates the human genome editing core at UCONN Health, join me on the show to explain CRISPR's origin, how we adapted CRISPR to use it in the lab, and two different CRISPR methods (editing the genome and the epigenome). I highlight other research with CRISPR including to research autism spectrum disorder, Angelman Syndrome and Prader-Willi Syndrome.
Dan Faszczyk is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kolgene, a platform connecting clinicians with genetic labs around the world. His company streamlines the process of looking for labs, communicating with them and ordering the tests. The demand for genetic testing is growing as more labs are performing a wider variety of tests. KolGene allows physicians access to the global supply of genetic tests while saving them time, money and improving patients’ care. This service enables physicians to offer their patients the most up to date tests available, while saving hours searching through lab’s websites to find them. Kolgene is for genetic tests as Kayak is for hotels; instead of searching for labs the clinicians post a request for a test and let labs extend unique, customized offers and have all those options appear in one screen. For years Dan held executive commercial positions in healthcare with a specialization in genetics. He worked with leading companies and labs from all over the world. His experience and insights led him to found KolGene. To stay updated on Kolgene's developments follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn; be sure to check out their on the app store or Google Play and website too!
Today is Rare Disease Day! I attended the National Organization for Rare Disorders' (NORD) event in Hartford, Connecticut’s Legislative Building. I recap the event and feature two interviews, one with Michelle Cotton, a patient advocate and mom of a child with a rare disease. The other interview is with Representative Dave W. Yaccarino, who spoke to me about the legislation's impact on biotech and Rare Diseases. Some facts about Rare Diseases, 30 million Americans have a Rare Disease which means 1 in 10 people in America are affected. Over half of those with a Rare Disease are children, and about 30% will not survive past 5 years old (NIH). We are aware of over 7,000 rare diseases and continue to discover more every year. Today's event was to raise awareness of Rare Diseases to the public, but most of all to our state legislators as many decision on the state level have major impacts on those in the Rare Disease community. Speakers of the event mentioned in this episode include... Vanessa Proctor, the Executive Director of Global Governmental Affairs at Alexion Professor David Goldhamer, Associate Director of the UCONN Stem Cell Institute Gayle Temkin, Founder of Alyssa’s Angels Fund and mother of child with a glycogen storage disorder Dr. David Weinstein, Glycogen Storage Disorder Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Michelle Cotton, a mother of child with a Fatty Oxidation Disorder (FOD) called SCADD (FODsupport.org) Madison Shaw, Founder of Maddie's Herd Dr. Mustafa Kokhura, Yale Genetics Fran Reed, CureGSD You can learn more about Bill HB6009, An Act to Create a Permanent Rare Disease Advisory Council. Check out DoYourShare.com, a supporting website featuring community stories, an opportunity for those living with a rare disease or those involved in the community to share their story, and ways to get involved in areas ranging from awareness and advocacy to research and donation. Please rate, review and subscribe in iTunes, here's a direct link to the podcast's listing.
Cytogenetics is the field genetics at a cellular level, which means looking at chromosomes (bundles of DNA). Clinical Cytogeneticist, Charlotte Keith, discusses the areas of testing; acquired and constitutional, which is broken down into prenatal and postnatal. She explains how balanced and unbalanced rearrangements work and talks about a case that explains the concept. Charlotte gives us an UK view of how genetic counseling is incorporated into their genetic testing process and just how complex “informed consent” is when it comes to genetic testing as incidental findings do happen. Direct-to-consumer testing becoming more popular and Charlotte adds in her opinion on these companies and the science behind them. Check out the website Charlotte recommends for understanding chromosome disorders, http://www.rarechromo.org, it has resources for countless syndromes with downloadable pdfs outlining information in laymen’s terms. She also mentions the Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) project and the 100,000 Genomes Project. Charlotte Keith is a Clinical Cytogeneticist from Edinburgh, Scotland. She works for the South East Scotland Genetics Service, providing diagnostic and prognostic genetic testing for NHS (National Health Service) patients.
Wesley Wilson discusses the epigenetic patterns in tumor progressing. He shares his expertise on pediatric cancer, how epigenetics differs between types of cancer, using epigenetics to diagnosis cancers and how treatment can differ depending on epigenetic patterns identified. Wes also gives an insider's view on the Hacking Health organization and how he contributes in his role. Wesley Wilson is a Canadian molecular biologist, whose work is focused on studying the epigenetics of tumor progression in pediatric brain cancers. He is also an ardent programmer and developer sitting on one of the organizing committees for Hacking Health. Wes founded the online science blog, MostlyScience.com and contributes to ScienceSeeker.org. His writings aim to demystify evidence based medicine.
Dan Donovan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Onevoice, a rare disease community building software solution. Onevoice provides a powerful encouragement and knowledge platform for all rare disease stakeholders. It is an all-inclusive collaboration and encouragement space for Patients and Physicians and all the people involved in rare disease — welcoming all who participate in diagnosis, treatment, research, caregiving and advocacy. Onevoice is the first Encourage Media platform – featuring the “+care” button, Sentiment Palette and Encouragement Power. Dan has spent nearly 3 decades in the pharmaceutical industry on both the industry and service sides of the business – first with Pfizer then creating Envision Pharma, which was acquired by United BioSource Corporation. His introduction to the world of rare disease began in 2011 when he was appointed to the Board of Directors and later as Chief Business Officer of Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals. Dan is the primary visionary behind the Clear offering.
Scott Weissman, founder of Chicago Genetic Consultants, discussing being an entrepreneur and genetic counselor at his private practice along with the subfields of genetic counseling he focuses on including cardiogenetics, hereditary cancer, and carrier screening. He shares his expertise on direct-to-consumer genetic testing offered from a variety of companies. Scott Weissman is a trailblazing genetic counselor who recently started his own independent practice, Chicago Genetic Consultants. He has previously been a genetic counselor at GeneDX and NorthShore University HealthSystem. Scott has received the Strategic Leader Award from the National Society of Genetic Counselors for working on multiple projects related to Medicare guidelines for cancer genetic testing, publishing genetic counseling and testing vignettes in the journal Community Oncology, and the United States Preventative Services Task Force BRCA genetic counseling guidelines. Scott is currently a Clinical Faculty member at the Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling and a senior genetic counselor at Aurora Health Care.
Dr. Joanne Kamens discusses gender equality in work environments, specifically in scientific fields and how to have a successful career in science. We talk about the progress made so far, and how much more advances there are to be made. Trailblazers such as Sheryl Sandberg have been increasing awareness for gender work equality with her Lean In movement. Joanne offers her insight why women are not represented in CEO, President and other high positions in companies. She comments on the gender pay gap and how companies can work towards closing the gap. Careers in science include academia and research, but the list doesn't end there. Joanne explains a few non-traditional roles offered at Addgene and other companies. She shares her own experience to finding her current role at Addgene. Networking is key in careers, and Joanne discusses this in her Not Networking video. Dr. Joanne Kamens is the Executive Director of Addgene, a mission driven, nonprofit dedicated to helping scientists around the world share plasmid reagents. We previously talked to her colleague, Dr. Melina Fan about Addgene. Joanne received her PhD in Genetics from Harvard Medical School then spent 15 years at BASF/Abbott, ultimately serving as Group Leader in Molecular Biology. In 2007 she joined RXi Pharmaceuticals as Senior Director of Research Collaborations. Dr. Kamens has been raising awareness of women scientists since 1998. She founded the current Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science. Dr. Kamens was recognized as one of the 2013 PharmaVoice 100 Most Inspiring and one of the Forty Over 40 Women Making an Impact.
Patient advocate, Georgia Hurst, shares about the hereditary cancer syndrome that she has, Lynch syndrome. It is an inherited disorder that increases the risk of many types of cancer, particularly cancers of the colon and rectum, and the reproductive organs in woman depending on which of the five Lynch syndrome mutations they hold. Georgia shares about her journey with Lynch syndrome from genetic counseling and genetic testing to find her mutation to risk reducing surgeries and how it has altered her life. New research and treatments in the hereditary cancer syndrome community is also Genetic counselors are important in guiding patients through genetic testing. Genetic counselors are valuable resources for helping patient learn about what hereditary cancer syndromes they may have and information for risk reducing surgeries. We highlight the difference between people practicing genetic counseling and certified genetic counselors. Georgia Hurst is a Lynch Syndrome Advocate, with her roles as Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, IHaveLynchSyndrome.com, a fantastic resource for people to learn about Lynch syndrome and read personal blog posts by Georgia on her experiences. Georgia has Lynch syndrome which is an inherited disorder that increases the risk of many types of cancer, particularly cancers of the colon and rectum, and the reproductive organs in woman depending on which of the five Lynch syndrome mutations they hold. She is a stakeholder in the National Academy of Sciences: Genomics and Population Health Action Collaborative. Her mission is to educate doctors and the public around the globe about Lynch syndrome.
Genetic counselor Brianne Kirkpatrick discuss family health history in honor of November being it’s awareness month, what the public should know about direct-to-consumer tests, how ancestry genetic testing works, and insight on running a private practice. Brianne Kirkpatrick, is a licensed and certified genetic counselor with more than 11 years of experience. She is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and the National Genealogical Society. She has her own private practice, WatershedDNA, where she offers clients her expertise in medical genetics and counseling to provide support and information to those seeking DNA testing for genealogy and health purposes. Brianne received her Bachelor’s in Biology and Religious Studies at Indiana University followed by a Master’s in Genetic Counseling at Northwestern University.
Sharon Begley presented at UCONN about the invention and evolution of the CRISPR-CAS9 technology. After the event she joins me on the show to discuss how CRISPR technology is making huge advances in research with HIV/AIDS, sickle cell disease and more. We discuss how CRISPR compares to other genetic editing technologies and why it has become so universal. Sharon Begley, is a science communicator and is the senior science writer at STAT, the life sciences publication of the Boston Globe. Sharon Begley was previously the senior health and science correspondent at Reuters, the science editor and the science columnist at Newsweek, and a contributing writer at the magazine and its website, The Daily Beast. She is the co-author of the book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain. Another UCONN event is discussed in this episode, Environment, Epigenetics and Cancer: How to Cultivate the Connections. I highlight points from Dr. Mary Beth Terry’s keynote presentation, “Breast Cancer Susceptibility: Rethinking the role of the environment and methods to improve risk assessment” including risk factors for breast cancer and the models used to calculate this risk. Panelist at the event who accompanied Dr. Terry on stage are Dr. Gary Lee Ginsberg, a toxicologist for the CT Dept of Public Health, Ellen Matloff, a certified genetic counselor and President of My Gene Counsel, and Dr. Christina Stevenson, an oncologist at UConn Health. Panel Moderators: Dr. Robert Henning, CPH-NEW Investigator and Dr. Judy Brown, Director Diagnostic Genetic Sciences Program and Health Care Genetics Professional Science Master's Degree Program. I discuss the major topics brought up by the audience along with the panelist responses.
Four events in one episode! I cover the NY Cytogenetics Regional Meeting I attending highlighting interesting points from presentations by Dr. Irene Cherric, Dr. Robert Hutchinson, Thomas Pope, Dr. Kazim R. Chohan, and Dr. Frank Middleton. I also discuss my presentation on the public's awareness of genetics through social media. These three genetic events are upcoming at UCONN/UCONN Health. All three have a focus on epigenetics, showing just how influential and universal this field of genetics is becoming. Environment, Epigenetics and Cancer: How to Cultivate the Connections October 24th, 2016 at 11:30 in the Student Union of UCONN Storrs, CT. Keynote Presentation by Mary Beth Terry, PhD “Breast Cancer Susceptibility : Rethinking the role of the environment and methods to improve risk assessment” Goal of the event to provide attendees with an update of current research and our understanding of the role of epigenetics and the environment in cancer risk and development. The panel will discuss advances in risk assessment, implications of scientific discoveries, epigenetic biomarkers and technological advances in screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well as provide feedback about the public and patient perspective. Gene Editing: The CRISPR Revolution October 26th, 2016 at 6pm in the Dodd Research Center f UCONN Storrs, CT. Keynote speaker, Sharon Begley, the the senior science writer at STAT, the life sciences publication of the Boston Globe will be discussing the invention and evolution of the CRISPR-CAS9 technology. It seems as if the possibilities for CRISPR are endless: drought–resistant crops, disease resistant livestock, new drugs and a cure for cancer. How does this technology work? What are some of the current explorations of the gene editing technology? What are the limitations and the risks of its use? What ethical conversations need to be had by science, the public, policymakers? Prader-Willi Syndrome: New Epigenetic Findings and Potential Routes to Therap November 4th, 2016 at 2pm in the Henry B.C. Low, M.D. Learning Auditorium at UCONN Health in Farmington, CT. The keynote speaker will be Marc Lalande, Ph.D., Health Net Professor and Chairman from the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, UConn Health.
Genetic counselor, Ginger Nichols, shares about what the MotherToBaby service offers (1-860-679-6199 for CT), her role as a genetic counselor, her expertise of the impact of the Zika Virus on pregnancy, the recommendation of flu shots for pregnant women, the effect of drugs on pregnancy, and October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Ginger also offers her insight into becoming a genetic counselor. Ginger Nichols is a certified genetic counselor. She currently works for MotherToBaby CT, which is housed at UCONN Health in the Human Genetics department. Previously she worked in cytogenetic laboratories, taught undergraduate biology/genetics, and counseled adults with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders. She received her bachelor’s in Biology and Sociology at Juniata College followed by a Master’s in Medical Genetics at the University of Cincinnati. If you want to find a genetic counselor in your area, please go to nsgc.org, there you can find a search feature that allows you to locate a genetic counselor near you or genetic counselors that offer phone session. To learn more about the field check out NSGC's new website, aboutgeneticcounselors.com.
September is national awareness month for Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT)! It’s perfect timing for Bernadette Scarduzio and Allison Moore to educate us on CMT in honor of the awareness month. "Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), named after the three doctors who first identified it, is one of the most common inherited nerve disorders. CMT affects an estimated 1 in 2,500 people in the United States and 2.6 million people worldwide, although experts believe the number could be much higher." (hnf-cure.org) Bernadette Scarduzio and Allison Moore are a passionate advocates for Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) syndrome working for the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation. Allison is the Founder and CEO and Bernadette is the Social Media Coordinator. Bernadette was born with CMT and lives with the syndrome every day. To raise awareness for the disease Bernadette’s life and family were featured in her self titled documentary, supported by HNF. Many of Bernadette’s family members also have the syndrome and she has made it her mission to fight for CMT. To check out the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation’s Patient-Centered Charcot-Marie-Tooth Summit you can visit the webpage. Follow Bernadette and the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation on social media to stay updated on Twitter (@BernsLife13 and @CMTNeuropathy), Facebook (@BernsLife and @Bernadettecmtmovie).