NSGC Annual Conference Outreach Event

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Today, I attended the NSGC Annual Conference Outreach Event with a variety of genetic counselors and graduate students, and learned a lot about ethics, evolving technology, and patient care.

The first topic that was discussed during the event dealt with the carrier status of two parents and the need to identify the percent chance of a child having a specific disease. In the example, both parents’ backgrounds were analyzed and discussed alongside their ethnicity. It was found that both parents were carriers for the recessive cystic fibrosis (CF) trait. Therefore, their child had a 25% chance of having CF.

The second topic that was discussed was health disparities. I found this topic to be the most interesting because I had never considered the lack of genetic information available for minorities to fall under health disparities. According to the genetic counselors, most genetic data comes from research concerning white and Ashkenazi Jewish population. For minorities, it may be very difficult to have access to research data and for genetic counselors to analyze the limited amount of data. In the example provided in the session, two African American parents wanted to know the chance that their first child had a genetic disease. The genetic counselors leading the discussion said that there was a 77% chance that the test was accurate, which meant that there was a 23% chance that the test provided an inaccurate result. The genetic counselors stated that this lack of information for the BIPOC community may be off-putting for some individuals, but it is important to preface each meeting with this information and assist the patients as much as possible.

The last topic introduced was the idea of at-home genetic testing versus clinical genetic testing. For at-home genetic testing, no medical provider is needed, there is a limited scope of results, and there may be a need for traditional testing to confirm results. For clinical genetic testing, a medical provider is required, pre- and post-test counseling is completed, and thousands of medically relevant tests are available.

Overall, I really enjoyed the 2020 Annual Conference Outreach Event and met many new individuals. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate and ask questions during the event and gain feedback and knowledge from genetic counselors and graduate school directors.

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