A few months ago, Robert Resta shared his plans to retire with the DNA Exchange author group. Retirement announcements have felt more bitter than sweet during these strange times of Covid-19 when we cannot gather to recognize the moment and celebrate the incredible careers of our friends and mentors. And what a remarkable career Bob has had. Following completion of his genetic counseling training at UC Irvine in 1983, Bob started work at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA. He worked at Swedish for 37 years, first as the director of genetic counseling in the perinatal clinic and then founding the hereditary cancer clinic in 2006. It is pretty remarkable in this day and age when genetic counselors move jobs so frequently that Bob dedicated nearly four decades to one institution. In addition to counseling thousands of patients over the years, Bob has contributed much to the genetic counseling profession. He was on the editorial board for the Journal of Genetic Counseling for 10 years and Editor-in-Chief from 1995-2001. He has contributed to numerous books and has authored dozens of peer reviewed publications. And, to date, he has authored 117 essays for the DNA Exchange.
While I had known he had been edging towards retirement for a while now, I had hoped that he would continue to provide his unique form of wisdom on DNA Exchange for years to come. He has said that he doesn’t think he’ll have much to contribute to the blog in his retirement and he encouraged us to think of bringing in new voices to this forum.
Although I wish him the very best in his retirement I hope he might speak up now and then. We have so much more to learn from him. Of course I understand that now that he is no longer working in a clinic, we will not see funny, thought-provoking, touching posts about patient interactions. And he may not keep up with what is happening with this lab or that lab to be able to offer his commentary on changes in the industry and how it is affecting patients.
I have appreciated every piece Bob has written, however what has been most important to me have been those that provide historical perspective. He has a remarkable gift for using a historical lens to provide context for what is happening today. And he has a unique gift for shining a light on even the darkest corners of our profession’s formative years with wit and wisdom that allows us to take in uncomfortable truths. We need to keep reflecting on this history as the field progresses.
If indeed Bob no longer feels inspired to write for the DNA Exchange (or even if he does) it is worthwhile to go back to the DNA Exchange archives and read his prior publications.
Fun Fact: the number one most popular post of all time on the DNA Exchange is, “And Bob’s Your Uncle: A Guide To Defining Great Aunts, Great-Great Grandparents, First Cousins Once-Removed, and Other Kinfolk.” This essay has topped the charts nearly every day since it was published, garnering over 189K views at the time of this post.
Some other fan favorites of Mr. Resta’s posts include:
While many of his short essays provide historical context for genetic counseling he also has several that predict the future of the field. I will admit that I have lost sleep over some of these posts, at least the ones that I dislike his predictions. Perhaps this is because he’s been right so many times. It’s as if he has the power to set our destiny by putting words on the internet.
Will the DNA Exchange fade away without Bob? If asked, he might predict this would be the case. After all, he has written more than 40% of the content for this blog and has been our steadiest contributor since it was founded in 2009. But despite Bob’s facility for predicting the future, the fate of the DNA Exchange is really in our hands. This is a call to those of you among our genetic counseling who want to contribute and share your unique and diverse perspectives on the field we love. We need to hear from you!
The best tribute we could offer Bob is to help new voices keep alive the forum he helped to build. A new generation of genetic counselors has much to tell us. I hope that some of you will choose to share those stories here, in the tradition of Bob Resta, the cranky and wonderful sage of genetic counseling.