A Career in Genetics

  1. What career path did you take to get to where you are now?

I graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor degree specializing in genetics and biotechnology. From there, I attended a graduate school in the States for genetic counselling, which combined my undergraduate knowledge with psychosocial counselling skills. I’ve been practicing as a genetic counsellor ever since, first in the United States at a teaching hospital and later at The Hospital for Sick Children. I recently made the switch from seeing patients to remotely writing genetic test results for a clinical laboratory. Now, instead of being the one ordering the testing and explaining the results to the patient, I’m interpreting the variants that arise from the DNA sample and putting together comprehensive explanations of the significance of these variants.


  1. What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

When I saw patients, the most rewarding aspect was knowing that I was there to help families through, what was usually, one of the most difficult periods of their lives. Genetic diagnoses rarely come with “cures”, but often simply having a a name for their symptoms could make all the difference. Now, I am thrilled to be able to provide answers to many more families at a time, as I’m able to write many more reports than I would be able to see patients. Variant analysis and interpretation is also fascinating for me, as it makes me a ‘molecular detective’ of sorts; I look at the clinical features and the changes in the person’s DNA and try to find the pattern underlying their condition.


  1. What consulting projects were you involved with and what expertise do you offer?

My experience as  consultant was predominantly with potential shareholders interested in knowing about the viability of certain genetic laboratories. I can speak about the current climate of genetic testing, which technologies have been proven to be superior in variant detection, and which labs look to be more competitive than others. I specialize in neurogenetics and inherited cancers, so most consultations have involved tests that offer genes associated with these types of conditions, such as BRCA1/2, the two most common genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.