In the News: Human Genetics Faculty, Staff, and Alumnae/i Speak

Caroline Lieber MS '80, former director of the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, has been named a 2013-2014 Professional Woman of the Year for leadership in human genetics by the National Association of Professional Women.

In the Wired science blog "Neuron Culture," faculty member Laura Hercher makes a case for selective paternalism in genetic testing.

Colleen Campbell MS ‘03 is part of the multi-institution team, led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Genetics, that won Boston Children’s Hospital’s international CLARITY contest. The team was one of 23 research groups competing to provide the best interpretation and communication of DNA sequencing results.

Donna McDonald-McGinn '85, M.S., CGC, associate director of Clinical Genetics and program director of the "22q and You" Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, received the Angelo DiGeorge Medal of Honor. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to understanding and/or treatment of chromosome 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome, a relatively common multisystem genetic disorder. Read more»

Caroline Lieber MS '80, former director of the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, was a panelist at the 2012 Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. Along with Gwen Darien '80, Lieber spoke on the topic, "The Human Genome: A User's Guide." Watch the presentation»

Kevin Sweet MS '94 recently published a book titled The Busy Physician's Guide to Genetics, Genomics, and Personalized Medicine. The book was reviewed on GenomeWeb (registration required to read review). Kevin hopes the book "will become a well-used guide for physicians and other healthcare professionals in this new era of genomics." profiles Jessica DePetro MS' 07, Staten Island's only genetic counselor specializing in cancer. She is one of a growing number of genetics counselors in a field that is continually evolving.

GenetAssist is an organization created to provide global access to genetic counseling. It was founded by three second-year Human Genetics students—Gillian Blaber, Lindsey Alico and Ny Hoang—and program director Caroline Lieber. The GeneAssist Team Blog chronicles the group's progress, especially during their pilot program trip to Antigua, Guatemala in March, 2011.

Caroline LieberCaroline Lieber MS '80, former director of the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, weighs in on the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic tests and the risks they pose in a U.S. News & World Report article titled, "Do At-Home Genetic Tests Tell Too Much and Explain Too Little?"

Brenda Finucane MS ’85 was featured in an article in the Delaware County Daily Times, which focuses on her role as a genetic counselor specializing in fragile X syndrome—and the recent news of a possible breakthrough in treatment of the disorder.

Nadeen Jaradat '09 is running a pediatric clinic at the Princess Haya Biotechnology Center (PHBC) in Jordan, which recently started providing genetic counseling services for patients and their families in that country. Read a full article on this important new program in Jordan

Lindsey ByrneLindsey Byrne '08 recently published her thesis paper, titled, Parental Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Genetic Testing. Lindsey works at the OhioHealth Cancer Genetics Program as a Cancer Genetics Counselor; her job includes seeing a range of hereditary cancer syndromes at four different hospitals in the Columbus, OH, area. In November, Lindsey was also featured on a Channel 4 News report on BRAC Analysis, a blood test that reveals a woman's risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Faculty member Dr. Robert Marion was honored with the Zella Bronfman Butler Award award from the UJA-Federation of New York’s Task Force on People With Disabilities for his commitment to enriching the lives of children and adults with physical, developmental, and learning disabilities.

Parent Project Muscular DystrophyAmy Jordan '10 attended the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy conference in June 2009, and filed this report on her experiences:

"I was fortunate enough as a summer intern at Emory University in Atlanta this summer to have many opportunities to enrich my education. One that I feel will stay with me long after I have left the Atlanta sunshine is the weekend that I spent at the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy conference in June. The three short days I attended the conference really allowed me to come as close to stepping into a world that I could only imagine. As a student in the Human Genetics program with the goal of becoming a genetic counselor, I have studied, and practiced, and read up on what it is like to be diagnosed, affected, and living with genetic disorders of all kinds. None of this prepared me for the few days of seeing firsthand the difficulties and the strength of the families who had to experience it for themselves. The conference ranged from presentations from scientists funded by PPMD to do research on Duchenne and Becker Muscular dystrophy, to sessions with doctors and therapists about the newest and best management techniques, to sessions with parents about what they are feeling and what to expect. According to Pat Furlong, Founding President and CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, “ The conference is about achieving a balance between treatment and care…while leaving time for people to get together.” From what I saw during my three days there, it has certainly achieved this goal.

"It is hard as a student to correctly imagine what this world is like. There is no pity, only strength and resolve to be strong for their sons until a cure is found. I encourage those who are intrigued by this field to attend a conference, any conference, for a genetic disorder. It will round out your world and let you see in a new light what the people we diagnose and treat day in and day out actually have to face when they leave your office. For these children this diagnosis changes everything. Dreams, expectations, play, home life, siblings, parents are all affected by an uncontrollable and incredible diagnosis. To witness this community over the course of a few days was a privilege and one that I believe will shape my genetic counseling."

Linda Steinmark MS '09 will be the genetic counselor providing services at The Hospital of Central Connecticut's just-launched regional genetic counseling and testing program. The goal of the program is to identify adult patients at risk of certain cancers triggered by gene mutation, and to empower them, through counseling, to make decisions about genetic testing and possible treatment. The program also includes Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

Human Genetics faculty member Robert Marion, MD, published his seventh book in October 2009, titled Genetic Rounds: A Doctor's Encounters in the Field that Revolutionized Medicine (view book on In the book, Dr. Marion, director of clinical genetics at both Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY, shares stories from his twenty-plus-year career that underscore the day to day issues and dilemmas that geneticists face.

Judith Benkendorf MS ‘80, a graduate of the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, is profiled by the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences newsletter. After nearly three decades in the field of genetics, Benkendorf is currently the special assistant to the executive director of the American College of Medical Genetics.

The Newsletter of the Genetics and Public Policy Center reports that Joan Scott MS ’78 has been named the new Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics Genetics and Public Policy Center.

Gretchen Neff MS ’04, a certified genetic counselor, is profiled by the Battle Creek Enquirer as part of a medical and behavioral health panel making a presentation on dementia and Alzheimer's in Michigan, as part of a program titled “Facing Early Dementia and the Life-Altering Aspects of Alzheimer's Disease."

Human Genetics faculty member Elsa Reich wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times regarding the killing of Dr. George Tiller.

Andrew Faucett '87, an assistant professor in the department of human genetics at Emory University School of Medicine, joins Lisa D'Andrea Lenell, host of XM Radio's ReachMD, to discuss the importance of genetic medicine in physicians' daily practices.

Human Genetics student Michele Disco '10 shares her insights as both a parent of a son living with Epidermolysis Bullosa and as a soon-to-be professional in the genetics field with Positive Exposure.

Alumni Steve Keiles and Lauren Carpiniello are quoted in a New York Post article on high-demand health-care positions that mentions the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics.

On, Caroline Lieber MS '80 is quoted on the safekeeping of DNA information collected by companies offering "do-it-yourself" genetic testing.

Caroline Lieber MS '80, former director of the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, talks to Rutgers University students about the profession of genetic counseling. Genetic counseling is being considered as a major in their School of Arts and Sciences, as reported by the The Maneater (originally published on the Daily Targum).

Steven Keiles '87, president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, is featured in a Wall Street Journal article discussing genetic counseling as a career.

Metro News Canada profiles Cheryl Shuman MS '79, noting how she has put into practice what she learned in the human genetics program at SLC throughout her career. Today, she is the program director for the masters program in genetic counseling at the University of Toronto.

In Westchester Magazine, former director Caroline Lieber MS '80 discusses the likelihood of a medical problem presented on the popular show House actually occurring.

In a Journal News op-ed, Human Genetics faculty member Laura Hercher praises a new federal law banning discrimination in employment and health care on the basis of genetic information, thus opening new doors to the promise of personalized medicine. However, Hercher cautions, work still needs to be done to put tools for the appropriate use of genetic information into place.

On Public Radio's Marketplace, former director Caroline Lieber MS '80 gives her analysis of new direct-to-consumer genetic testing services.

More magazine profiles Georgette Bruenner MS '07, and lists her job as Genetics Counselor as one of the best ten jobs for midlife women.

Genetic counselor Flavia Facio MS '01, explains the goals of a study exploring the challenges facing individualized gene sequencing in a clinical research setting, in which she is lead associate investigator. The study, called ClinSeq, is described in detail on the National Human Genome Research Institute Web site.

Share Your Story

Are you a Human Genetics alum, student, or faculty member with news to share? Contact Caroline Lieber at