My research focuses on the application of genomic information and associated tools that can lead to improved health outcomes. I have worked in research for more than 20 years and began working at Cincinnati Children’s in 2006. Research-based genetic counseling is one area in which I am particularly interested. Genetic counseling can help people understand and adapt to the psychological, medical and familial implications of inherited diseases and conditions that might affect them or their families.
Changing clinical recommendations suggest that every time genome or exome sequencing is performed, patients should have the option to learn a specific set of secondary genomic results, regardless of the indication for testing. In pediatric settings, this includes conveying some genomic information about risk for conditions that can occur in adulthood or that may present a risk to future children. Historically, patients waited until they reached the age of 18 to learn about this information.
My recent research focuses on patients, providers and consumer-facing applications of genomic sequencing information. I am particularly interested in adolescents’ and young adults’ perspectives and decisions about learning genomic information. While adolescents provide consent to participate in research and to undergo genetic testing, their views about receiving such information and how they want to go about making decisions about research and genetic testing represent a gap in the literature. We have learned that adolescents do not always want to know all secondary genomic results, want to be involved in the decision-making process, and often make different decisions than their parents.
I have been in public health over the years and have served on various committees and teams. I have worked with the National Center of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As an epidemic intelligence service (EIS) officer, I participated in several outbreak response teams, including:
- Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) Team 9 in Bangladesh
- New York City Anthrax Team
- World Trade Center Terrorist Attack Response Team
- Dengue Fever Outbreak Response team in Maui and Kawaii, Hawaii
- West Nile Virus Response Team in Long Island, New York
I am also an educator. A large part of what I do is train genetic counseling students in the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program.
Evaluating family health history as a health promotion and disease prevention tool; direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic testing; and outcomes research in genetic counseling
Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics