Careers in Diagnostic Sciences
A genetic counselor must have a Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling from an accredited program and be certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Dr Judy Brown, Dr. Marc Lalande and Ginger Nichols, CGC received an Academic Plan Proposal Award on July 1, 2016 to establish a new accredited Masters Degree in Genetic Counseling at UConn. This Genetic Counseling program will be under the auspices of the Institute for Systems Genomics, its affiliated UConn departments and teaching hospitals, and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. It will be the first at a New England public institution, and the first in Connecticut.
A genetic counselor provides patient and family counseling, elicits and interprets individual and family medical histories, interprets clinical genetic testing information, explains the causes and natural history of genetic disorders and genetic risk assessment and interacts with other health care professionals in the provision of services for patients with genetically influenced disorders.
The laboratory director runs a clinical laboratory, interprets and signs lab reports, and ensures that accurate test results are provided to ordering physicians and patients. Accurate and timely laboratory results interpretation allows clinical medical geneticists and other physicians to establish the patient’s diagnosis and/or treatment. The lab director has had additional schooling as an MD or PhD and has Certification by the American Board of Medical Genetics in one or more of the following categories:
- Biochemical Genetics
- Molecular Genetics
- Clinical Genetics
Lab directors are in very high demand.
A medical/clinical geneticist must have an MD or DO, be licensed to practice medicine, and have completed an accredited clinical residency program in clinical medical genetics. The Medical meneticist diagnoses and treats genetic disorders. This is the health care professional who looks at a patient and says “based on these physical appearances, I think my patient might have a chromosome abnormality or a genetic disease.” A medical geneticist applies knowledge of heterogeneity, variability, and natural history of genetic disorders in patient care decision-making; interprets clinical genetic and testing information; and interacts with other healthcare professionals in the provision of services for patients with genetically influenced disorders.
DGS Program requirements match many of those required for graduate programs. Furthermore, the student is ready to “hit the bench” with respect to knowing how to perform many of the experimental procedures of a research laboratory. Missing pre-requisites may include cell biology, physics, and/or biochemistry, depending on the type of program to which the student is applying.
Genetics and Business
How about a Masters in Business? There are a number of established and start up companies in genetics and genetic technologies. An individual with genetics and business training can perform market analysis for genetic testing products or be a business analyst for a biotechnology company. Use these skills, become an entrepreneur, and discover the next new genomics trend.
Genetics and Law
A lawyer specializing in genetics can play important role in cases with questions about the Genetic Information NonDisclosure Act (GINA). They can also serve as a member of Institutional Research Boards for approval of experiments with ethical, legal, or societal implications of genetics: Myriad patenting, FDA regulation of laboratory developed tests, privacy of 23 and Me whole genome sequencing data… the list is endless.