Tag Archives: future

The Future is Here

The endless possibilities of genetics is oftentimes left to our imagination.

The media draws attention to genetic experiments they know will sparkle heated debates.  Don’t forget all the books and movies out there that portray genetics as something that will change the human race and will give us super powers.   There have been so many times where the public is exposed to a small area of genetics and the focus is somewhat on “….look at the cool stuff we can do….”

Anyone remember Dolly?

How about the mouse with a human ear on its back?

Don’t forget the glow-in-the-dark puppy.

The future is here, just in a different way than the media has been portraying over the years.  The future is here in terms of personalized genetics and taking charge of our health.

The public has reacted by fighting limits placed on DTC tests.  The public argue they are capable of interpreting, understanding, and making health decisions based upon their individual genetic information all on their own.   In other words, they are saying they don’t need genetic counselors.

The future is here and it could make or break the genetic counseling field.

NOW is the time for us to find our place.  NOW is the time for us to speak up and gain public recognition.  NOW is the time to show the importance of genetic counselors.  NOW is the time to make “genetic counselor” a household term.

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Does History Shape Society’s Attitude Towards Genetics?

I visited D.C. as an undergraduate student and spent a majority of my time wandering around various Smithsonian museums.  I got to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Kermit the frog, and Apollo 11 artifacts.  There was one exhibit that left a lasting impression on me which was the Deadly Medicine:  Creating The Master Race exhibit at the Holocaust museum.


From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of individuals viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that began with the mass sterilization of
“genetically diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry.

To relate this history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has assembled objects, photographs, documents, and historic film footage from European and American collections and presents them in settings evoking medical and scientific environments. Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race provokes reflection on the continuing attraction of biological utopias that promote the possibility of human perfection. From the early twentieth-century international eugenics movements to present-day dreams of eliminating inherited disabilities
through genetic manipulation, the issues remain timely.”  (http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/traveling/details/index.php?type=current&content=deadly_medicine)

The Genetics Revolution seems to focus so much on the future that we forget about the past.  Who are we to say the past does not affect us on some level?

Eugenics is, unfortunately, real.  Is this why so many people are concerned about The Genetics Revolution?

I know eugenics is a very sensitive subject but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it.   I think it is important for us to explore the history of genetics and the impact it has had on society.  I don’t know about you, but I have met several people who immediately assume genetic counselors encourage some form of eugenics.

Do you ever feel like in a sense the past is holding us back in terms of the public fully accepting The Genetics Revolution?

The reason why I’m bringing this up is because this exhibit will be visiting my town for a few months.  I hope to do a follow-up post about it from the perspective of a genetic counselor.  I hadn’t even started to apply to genetic counseling programs when I first saw this exhibit.

I also see this as an opportunity to educate the public about misconceptions that might be out there about genetic counseling.  There has been a lot of buzz about this exhibit.  I’m open to any suggestions as to how I can use this exhibit as a platform to educate the public and to increase awareness in genetics.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Comments?


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Guest Post: The “Wholistic” Genetic Counselor of Tomorrow

By Jordanna Joaquina

Jordanna is Director of Genetics and Co-Founder of AccessDNA.com, the first comprehensive online resource for information about hundreds of genetic conditions, topics, tests and Direct-to-Consumer providers. She is a board-certified genetic counselor with a clinical background in multiple disciplines of genetics. Read her complete bio here.

At the Consumer Genetics Conference last week in Boston, MA, most of the genetic “thought leaders” agreed that the technology was advancing quicker than the science. However, we all know that the personalizedmedicinescience will eventually catch up and sooner than we think, we will have made incredible strides. Not only will we identify and validate the genetic variables of disease, but also how they interact with each other, and with non-genetic factors, to affect disease risk and treatment.

And then what? What happens when personalized medicine is not just a crazy, pie-in-the-sky pipedream made up by forward-thinking, eccentric scientists, but a reality, and the new, “right way” to approach and practice medicine?

In this brave new world of personalized medicine, I imagine that every person will have their own personal genetic counselor. Along with primary care physicians or specialists, this new class of genetic counselors will help assess, interpret and guide patients through their risk factors, both genetic and non-genetic.

But if personalized medicine is realized tomorrow, little of us would be prepared to take on this important role – the “wholistic,” as I call it, genetic counselor who specializes in complex disease. Most of us have never even seen whole genome scanning nor whole genome sequencing results, nevermind being asked or expected to interpret them.

So, as genetic counselors, what can/should we do? How do we position ourselves as vital members of the personalized medicine team? How do we better educate and train ourselves and future genetic counselors in the genetics of complex disease as well as emerging genetic technologies? How do we participate in whole genome research, thought groups, and policy-making bodies? How do we continue to advocate for the proper use of genetic information and promote access to genetic services?

How do we begin to see our field and ourselves as one of the most important elements of health care in the next century?

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