Meet the Leadership Team

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
Co-Director, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

Melanie Myers, Director, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. Melanie Myers has a broad background in public health genomics with specific training in genetic counseling, public health, social and behavioral sciences, and applied epidemiology. She is board certified in genetic counseling and worked in Seattle and Baltimore in prenatal and cancer genetic counseling settings.

Myers obtained her PhD in public health from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Some of her interests and responsibilities with the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program include directing research training for graduate students, ensuring compliance with institutional / accreditation requirements, and developing and implementing a funded research program. Myers’ research interests include the integration of genomic technologies into public health research and practice to improve population health.

She has conducted population-, clinic- and community-based research using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Her recent funded research activities have included adolescent decision-making about genetic testing, patterns of communication about disease risk among families at increased risk of type 2 diabetes based on family history, and the use of family health history as a genomic tool to promote health and prevent disease.

Prior to joining the Cincinnati Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Myers worked in the Office of Public Health Genomics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there she led a multistate investigation to monitor the impact of the first direct-to-consumer marketing campaign for genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility (BRCA1/2).

Myers also served in the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) in the National Center of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC. As an EIS officer, she participated in several outbreak response teams, including Stop Transmission of Polio Team 9 in Bangladesh, the New York City Anthrax Team, the World Trade Center Terrorist Attack Response Team, the Dengue Fever Outbreak Response team in Maui and Kauai, Hawaii, and the West Nile Virus Response Team in Long Island, NY.

> See Cincinnati Children's bio.

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
Co-Director, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

Carrie Atzinger, Assistant Director, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program.Carrie Atzinger is a board-certified and licensed genetic counselor and graduate of the Cincinnati Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. After graduation, she worked as a pediatric genetic counselor at the University of Maryland before returning to work as a pediatric genetic counselor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Through her clinical roles, Atzinger worked with patients in general genetics clinics and acted as coordinator for the Cincinnati Children’s Marfan / Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Clinic and Skeletal Dysplasia Center. Throughout this time, she supervised genetic counseling students and also maintained her involvement in didactic education of genetic counseling students and other trainees.

In her role as co-director of the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Atzinger teaches the advanced genetic counseling course throughout the second year and is both a research mentor and academic adviser. She is also the genetics faculty member for the Cincinnati Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program. Atzinger’s research interests include professional and educational aspects of genetic counseling including aspects of fieldwork supervision and student and supervisor self-efficacy.

Atzinger is actively involved in genetic counseling professional organizations. She is an active member of the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) and has served as a site visitor for the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counselors (ACGC). Atzinger has had many volunteer roles with the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) including serving on the Board of Directors, acting as secretary / treasurer, and beginning in 2021 co-leading the NSGC Leadership Development Program.

Fieldwork Coordinator, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

Rebecca Sisson, Clinical Coordinator, Genetic Counseling Graduate ProgramRebecca Sisson is a board-certified and licensed genetic counselor and graduate of the University of Cincinnati genetic counseling program. After graduation Sisson spent two years working as a pediatric and prenatal genetic counselor at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia. She currently works as a genetic counselor in the Cincinnati Children's Hereditary Cancer Program.

As the clinical coordinator for the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Sisson teaches the cancer genomics and introduction to genetic counseling courses, and helps to facilitate clinical rotations for students. Her responsibilities with the genetic counseling graduate program include research mentoring, academic advising, overseeing first-year student clinical rotations and clinical supervision.

Fieldwork Instructor for Second-Year Students, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

 Kathleen Collins, Clinical Instructor for Second Year Students, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program.Kathleen Collins is board certified as a genetic counselor by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a master’s degree in human genetics. She practices clinical and laboratory genetic counseling at Cincinnati Children’s. Clinical activities include Cancer and Huntington’s disease clinic. She also works in the cytogenetics laboratory and performs lab stewardship services for the send-out lab at Cincinnati Children's.

Collins is also the clinical instructor for second-year students in the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. Her responsibilities with the program include teaching, academic advising, clinical supervision, overseeing the progress of second-year students in their clinical rotations and research mentoring.

Admissions Coordinator, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

Emily Wakefield, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Cincinnati Children's.

Emily Wakefield is board certified as a genetic counselor by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She graduated from University of Alabama at Birmingham with a master’s degree in genetic counseling in 2014. She practices as a laboratory genetic counselor in the Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics and clinical counselor in the Hereditary Cancer Program.

As admissions coordinator for the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, she answers inquiries from prospective students, facilitates program information sessions and the review of applications, and helps coordinate interviews for prospective students. In addition, Emily is the distance learning coordinator that is responsible for the Cincinnati GCGP distance learning program and maintains the online courses in cardiovascular genetics, laboratory genetic counseling, neurogenetics, embryology, teratology and the genetic counseling case series. She is also the course instructor for Emerging Topics in Clinical Genomics which is a course taken by both first and second year genetic counseling graduate students.

Program Coordinator, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

Shumaila Ali, Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, Cincinnati Children's.

Shumaila Ali recently joined the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. Before joining the team, Ali worked as the main administrative resource for the Human Genetics Division, Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program. She received a bachelor's in law from the University of London and master's in law from Middlesex University, London, England. Ali has a vast range of experience from working with refugees at the United Nations Pakistan, to supporting international students as an administrator while completing her post-graduate degree. 

Her diverse experience from living in different countries and practicing law to customer service has made her an expert in organizing, planning and executing tasks that are required on a day-to-day basis for the program. She is meticulous in ensuring that our students are provided the support that is needed and feels passionate about being an integral part of their future as genetic counselors. 

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