Speaker Biographies

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Lila AiyarLila Aiyar
Lila Aiyar is a CBGC and ABGC board-certified genetic counsel(l)or for the Hawaii State Department of Health Genomics Section and the Western States Regional Genetics Network, whose public health work focuses on increasing access to genetic services and education for underserved populations. She provides pediatric and newborn screening genetic counselling services as part of Hawaii Community Genetics. She received her Master’s Degree in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto in 2012. Lila is a part of the leadership team for the Minority Genetic Professionals Network, and recently served as Guest Associate Editor for a 3-part Special Issue of the Journal of Genetic Counseling, focused on Minority and Health Disparities in Research and Practice in Genetic Counseling and Genomic Medicine.

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Fizza AkbarFizza Akbar
Fizza Akbar is a Genetic Counselor and a Genomics Researcher at The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. She has her BS (Hons) in Biotechnology and her MSc, in Genomic Medicine. She is also enrolled in a Graduate Certificate for Genomic Counseling & Variant Interpretation at the University of British Columbia. She provides genetic counseling services in the prenatal, pediatric, and adult clinical settings. Her area of interest is to understand the genetic architecture of rare Mendelian disorders in the multi-ethnic Pakistani population, and to advocate for the integration of genomics in mainstream medical practice. Her contribution includes her work on ‘Genomic data analyses to identify novel syndromic forms of immunological & haematological disorders in a paediatric cohort from Deciphering Developmental Delay study,’ at Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine. She received a travel award to present her work on the ‘Impact of adding a Clinical Genetics Team in the care of Breast Cancer Patients at a Tertiary Care Center in a LMIC’ at World Congress on Genetic Counseling, in 2019, at Wellcome Genome Campus, UK. At the institutional level, her Grand Rounds presentation on ‘Bringing Genetics to the Bedside in Adult Medicine’ in May 2020, received remarkable acknowledgment. She also facilitated a workshop at The Rare Disease Annual Conference 2020 on ‘What Is Genetic Counseling, how to do it right?’ to engage clinicians and scientists from a variety of specialty fields. Striding alongside her team towards the goal for laying the foundation of a Regional Genomics Medicine Center, she is involved in planning capacity-building projects and research collaborations to bringing the underrepresented Pakistani population to the global map of genomics research.

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Natasha AruliahNatasha Aruliah
Natasha identifies as a racialised, immigrant settler who lives on the unceded and traditional territories of the sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations. Trained as a psychologist and working as a therapist in healthcare, education and community service settings with a variety of marginalised communities, she witnessed the impact of systems and structures on people. Both through understanding her own lived experience, her identity and witnessing others grapple with theirs, she moved into working more comprehensively with the systems and structures that cause harm, inequity and injustice as well as working with those impacted by them.
She now works as a facilitator, consultant, educator, speaker and coach, specialising in Justice, Equity, Decolonising, diversity and inclusion (JEDdi), and transformative change for both individuals and organisations, with over 25 years of experience. She works with government, union, non-profit, community and corporate organisations, locally, nationally and internationally, primarily in the areas of education, healthcare, public policy, community services and the environment. She facilitates workshops and retreats for staff and boards, coaches leadership, key staff and board members and conducts organisation assessments, policy and process reviews. Her work is grounded in interdisciplinary practices integrating intercultural competence, cultural humility/safety, emotional intelligence, embodied practice, critical thinking, leadership/management development, transformative organisational change, and equity, social justice and anti-oppression, specifically exploring power and privilege. She is currently writing a book about her work in JEDdi, specifically aimed at leaders and practitioners, and the role of identity.

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Tony AttwoodTony Attwood
Tony is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in Autism Spectrum Disorders since he qualified as a clinical psychologist in England in 1975. He currently works in his own private practice, and is also adjunct professor at Griffith University, Queensland and senior consultant at the Minds and Hearts clinic in Brisbane. His book Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals has sold over 500,000 copies and has been translated into 27 languages. His subsequent book, The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, published in October 2006 has sold over 300,000 copies and has been translated into 18 languages, and is one of the primary textbooks on Asperger’s syndrome, otherwise known as Autism Spectrum Disorder – Level 1. He has several subsequent books published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Future Horizons Inc. and Guilford Press on emotion management, relationships and sexuality, and general advice for autistic children and adults.
Tony has been invited to be a keynote speaker at many Australasian and International Conferences. He presents workshops and runs training courses for parents, professionals and individuals with Asperger’s syndrome all over the world and is a prolific author of scientific papers and books on the subject. He has presented several live webinars with his colleague, Dr Michelle Garnett, which have been recorded and can be accessed via their website at www.attwoodandgarnettevents.com.
He has worked with many thousands of individuals of all ages with many expressions of autism.

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Claire BascunanaClaire Bascuñana
Claire Bascuñana is a CAGC-certified genetic counsellor currently working at ovo clinic in Fertility, Pre-conception and Prenatal clinics. Her past experience includes several years at the Jewish General Hospital in Prenatal Diagnosis and Hereditary Cancer clinics, as well as the coordination and recruitment of patients for the Quebec Pancreas Cancer Study. She has several scientific publications highlighting translational and clinical genetics research on pancreatic cancer, and she more recently published a paper regarding an unusual familial recurrence of osteogenesis imperfecta. Her academic background also includes degrees in Bioethics and Biomedical Sciences. She is faculty lecturer at McGill University and is actively involved in the supervision and teaching of the Genetic Counselling students.

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Michaela Bercovitch-SandinskyMichaela Bercovitch-Sandinsky
Originally from Ottawa, Michaela obtained a BSc in Anatomy & Cell Biology and a MSc in Biochemistry at McGill University. Even before starting the MSc Genetic Counselling program at McGill, Michaela was fascinated by cancer genetics. She is very happy to join the team at the Jewish General Hospital as a cancer and prenatal genetic counsellor.

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Nathalie BolducNathalie Bolduc
Nathalie Bolduc received her master’s degree in genetic counselling from McGill University. Through her practice, she acquired a unique combination of clinical expertise in both the public and private healthcare sectors as well as in research, industry and non-profit. She worked in several clinical specialties and also led the provincial predictive testing program for Huntington disease for several years. An excellent communicator, she is interested in making genetics accessible through conferences to healthcare professionals and to the general public as well as by advocating for the role of genetic counsellors in the integration of genomics into primary care and preventive medicine. She also worked with non-profit organizations to create educational resources for hereditary diseases. She is past-President of Quebec Association of Genetic Counsellors and past-President of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors.

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Lauren BradyLauren Brady
Lauren completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University and then went on to complete her degree in genetic counseling at Sarah Lawrence College in New York state. Lauren has been working in the Neuromuscular and Neurometabolic clinic with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky for nine years. The clinic is new to the newborn screening world when SMA was added to the Ontario panel in early 2020. One a personal note, she is a dog-mom to a tri-pawed potcake named “Bart”.

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Nikkola CarmichaelNikkola Carmichael
Dr. Carmichael is a genetic counselor at Boston Children’s and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, specializing in pulmonary genetics and gene discovery initiatives. She also teaches in the genetic counseling program at Brandeis University. In 2020, she completed a PhD in Health Professions Education at Simmons University. Her dissertation was qualitative study focusing on the training experiences of genetic counseling students who identify as racial or ethnic minorities.

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Selina CasalinoSelina Casalino
Selina is a Canadian Certified Genetic Counsellor currently working on the GENCOV study: Implementation of serological and molecular tools to inform COVID-19 patient management at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. The GENCOV study is a large-scale research project involving several sites and collaborators that aims to identify host genetic, serological, immunological, and viral factors that may contribute to variability in COVID-19 responses and outcomes. While Selina contributes more broadly to all of these research areas, her primary role as the study Genetic Counsellor is to provide pre-test counselling for study participants undergoing whole genome sequencing, as well as return secondary findings and facilitate clinical follow-up. She also plays an active role in variant analysis and report generation.

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Alison CastleAlison Castle
Dr Alison Castle is a fifth-year resident physician in Medical Genetics and Genomics at the University of Ottawa. She completed medical school at McMaster University where her interest in multidisciplinary care and interprofessional collaboration began. During residency, she continues to be involved in education and is working to improve both resident and patient multidisciplinary care experiences.

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Faith CheungFaith Cheung
Faith is a Genetic Counsellor at the BC Cancer Hereditary Cancer Program. She received her honours Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology and recently her Master’s of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of British Columbia. Faith’s graduate research aimed to explore and understand the lived experiences of individuals who have received incidental findings from genome-wide sequencing and the impact those findings have had on their lives and their family. This research was conducted as part of GenCOUNSEL, a large scale research study aiming to address the genetic counselling issues associated with the implementation of genome-wide sequencing in Canada, and the CAUSES Study, a translational research initiative that performed trio-based genome-wide sequencing in 500 families with children who had suspected genetic conditions.

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Courtney CookCourtney Cook
Courtney Cook received her BSc in Biology and English Literature from the University of British Columbia (UBC) followed by her Master’s in Genetic Counselling from UBC. Prior to completing her MSc, she worked as a project assistant for the GenCOUNSEL study, coordinating a follow up study for the Genomic Consultation Service that aimed to evaluate outcomes of genomic advice provided by a multidisciplinary team led by genetic counsellors. Courtney now works as a research genetic counsellor at UBC on the MAGERS (Metabolic and Genetic Explorations in Refractory Schizophrenia) and GenCOUNSEL studies. As part of her work with the MAGERS study she provides psychiatric genetic counselling and return of whole genome sequencing results to patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. In her role on the GenCOUNSEL study she has been contributing to research related to the integration of genetic counsellors into genomic test triage, genetic counselling in subspecialty clinic settings and the clinical implementation of genomics in the neonatal period.

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Melissa CornthwaiteMelissa Cornthwaite
Melissa recently graduated from the Genetic Counselling program at the University of British Columbia (2021) and now works as a Genetic Counsellor at North York General Hospital. Prior to pursuing genetic counselling, she received her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education degrees from Queen’s University before working as a Laboratory Technician in the SickKids Genome Diagnostics division.

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Charlotte CowanCharlotte Cowan
Charlotte Cowan achieved her Master’s in Genetic and Genomic Counselling through Cardiff University. Charlotte wrote her master’s dissertation on perceived barriers to accessing medical care for people with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Previously, Charlotte studied at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience with Honours. While at Dalhousie, she completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of cigarette smoking on brain activity. Charlotte is currently a member of the CAGC Media and Communications Committee, and the Genetic Counselling Trainee Platform for Racial Justice.

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Alessandra CummingAlessandra Cumming
Alessandra completed a Master of Science in Genetic Counselling at the University of British Columbia after completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Queen’s University. She holds certification from both the Canadian Board of Genetic Counselling (CBGC) and the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). She works as a clinical genetic counsellor at the Genetic Counselling Services of Health Sciences North (HSN) in Sudbury, Ontario, where she provides hereditary cancer, prenatal, preconception, adult, and pediatric genetic counselling. She participates in clinical supervision of MSc genetic counselling students and in teaching medical students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). Alessandra is the 2021 President of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC).

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Christine DaviesChristine Davies
Christine Davies is a Genetic Services Consultant at Blueprint Genetics. She is passionate about quality and innovation in the workplace. Based in Ottawa, Ontario, she is responsible for providing comprehensive test information, resources and support to Genetic Counsellors, Geneticists, and other clinicians ordering genetic testing in Eastern Canada. Christine has an MSc in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto and is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She has clinical experience in the areas of pediatric, cardiac, prenatal, cancer genetics and newborn screening.

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Lisa Dellefave-CastilloLisa Dellefave-Castillo
Lisa M. Dellefave-Castillo is a genetic counselor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the Center for Genetic Medicine in the Section of Cardiology. She is a Certified Genetic Counselor through the American Board of Medical Genetics and American Board of Genetic Counseling and a member of the National Society of Genetic Counseling where she has served on several committees and special interest groups. Lisa is also a member, past Secretary, and past President of the Genetic Task Force of Illinois. She sees patients to provide genetic counseling through the Adult Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic, coordinates research studies, and genetic testing and is an Assistant Professor in the Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Cardiology, and Center for Genetic Medicine. She has contributed to numerous research publications, books and reference documents, and has presented multiple abstracts on topics surrounding genetics, cardiology, and neurology.

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Harriet DrukerHarriet Druker
Harriet Druker is a Genetic Counsellor and the Regional Account Manager for Eastern Canada at PreventionGenetics. Harriet obtained her BSc in Biology and MSc in Genetic Counselling from McGill University in 1993 and 1996 respectively. In 2006, she received an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. Harriet worked for 22 years as a clinical genetic counsellor in prenatal, paediatrics, and cancer genetics. From 2000 -2018 she was the senior genetic counsellor in the first paediatric Cancer Genetics Program in North America at The Hospital for Sick Children. She was the Director of the Cancer Genetic Counselling Course at The University of Toronto from 2000-2017. She continues as an adjunct lecturer and clinical supervisor at U of T. Harriet was a Principal Investigator at SickKids’ Research Institute and a senior author and co-investigator for numerous research studies. On a personal level, she is a mother to three teenagers and lives with an increased risk of having a cardiac arrest. She is an active member of the CARE, Cardiac Arrest Response and Education, committee and has raised upwards of $45,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation over the last 15 years.

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Luke DruryLuke Drury
Dr. Drury joined PreventionGenetics in September 2013 as a Human Molecular Geneticist. His portfolio focuses on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. He is certified as a High Complexity Clinical Lab Director through the American Board of Bioanalysis and as a Diplomat of Laboratory Management through the American Society of Clinical Pathology. He is also the director of the sequencing laboratory at PreventionGenetics. Dr. Drury received his Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Prior to coming to PreventionGenetics, he was a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of Iowa.

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Christele Du-SouichChristele Du-Souich
Christèle graduated from McGill University with a degree in Biology and Human Genetics before obtaining her Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling.
After graduation, Christèle worked as a clinical genetic counsellor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver, mainly in prenatal, paediatric and adult genetics settings; she was also appointed as a Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC. In 2015 she became the principal genetic counsellor for the CAUSES project: a three year translational research initiative that performed genome wide sequencing in 500 paediatric patients with suspected genetic conditions. In 2016, Christèle was appointed as the principal genetic counsellor for the RAPIDOMICS project, which performed rapid whole exome sequencing in NICU patients at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre. In December 2018, she decided to make the change to industry and has since been the Reiobnal Manager for Canada West, Australia and New Zealand for PreventionGenetics.
Throughout her career, Christèle has been very active in rare disease research publishing numerous original research papers and presenting her work at many national and international conferences.

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Sara FernandezSara Fernandez
Sara completed her master’s in genetic counselling at the Université de Montréal in 2010. Then joined the provincial medical genetics program in Newfoundland for eight years, practicing in prenatal, hereditary cancer, general adult and pediatric genetics, metabolics and newborn screening. Three years ago, Sara joined Newborn Screening Ontario where she became involved with molecular reporting both in the diagnostic and newborn screening context. Sara was the CAGC representative for the CCMG clinical practice committee for 6 years, is involved with the French language committee as well as the Spanish Lexigene project, and most recently joined the media and communications committee.

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Carol-Ann FortinCarol-Ann Fortin
Carol-Ann Fortin received her Bachelor degree in pharmacology at Université de Sherbrooke in 2019. She is now a Master degree student in Biochemistry at Université de Sherbrooke. Native from Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, she is interested in offering more support to families with genetic disease in her native region. She want to pursue her formation in Genetic Counseling in the next years.

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Emily FoxEmily Fox
Emily received her Master of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto in 2014. Prior to this, she completed a PhD in Physiology (2012) and a BSc in Human Biology (2006), both from the University of Toronto. Emily joined the Peterborough Regional Health Centre Genetics Program in June of 2014 and sees a variety of patients including prenatal, cancer, pediatric and adult, in this general clinical setting. Emily is the 2021 President Elect of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC).

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Kim GallKim Gall
Kim Gall, MSc, CGC, is a graduate of the University of British Columbia genetic counseling program and is certified by the ABGC. Her clinical work included a variety prenatal, pediatric, and adult genetics through her roles at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Newborn Screening lab of Ontario and the Genetic Laboratory Services in Alberta. She is the Senior Manager of Clinical Genomic Services at Blueprint Genetics.

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Lauren GallagherLauren Gallagher
Lauren works as a genetic counsellor and clinical team lead at Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), located at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa. At NSO, she participates in clinical operations, patient care, and various communications, education and strategic initiatives of the program. Lauren is proud to be a part of the clinical group that worked to both conceptualize and operationalize the world’s first screening program for congenital Cytomegalovirus and genetic risk factors for hearing loss.

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Celine GillCeline Gill
Celine Gill is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto MSc in Genetic Counselling Program (Class of 2021). She is currently working as a Genetic Counsellor at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. Prior to her professional training, Celine completed a BSc in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology at the University of Calgary.

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Claire GoldsmithClaire Goldsmith
Claire Goldsmith began working at CHEO as a genetic counsellor in 1989. She is the genetic counsellor for Neurogenetics Clinic, and also the Coordinator of the Genetic Counsellors in the Regional Genetics Clinic. In addition she is the Professional Practice Leader for all of the Genetic Counsellors at CHEO, which includes those who work in the Regional Genetics Program, at the CHEO Research Institute, in Newborn Screening Ontario, and BORN Ontario. She holds an honours Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology & Genetics from the University of Guelph and a Master of Science in Genetic Counselling degree from McGill University.

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Julie HathawayJulie Hathaway
Julie Hathaway received her Master’s of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto. She is American and Canadian Board certified. She was introduced to cardiac genetics early on in her career and this remains her main area of interest in the field. Prior to taking a position at Blueprint Genetics as a Clinical Liaison, she worked as a clinical coordinator and genetic counsellor, playing an important role in establishing the BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program. She remains actively involved in the cardiac genetics community.

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Julia HeatonJulia Heaton
Julia is a recent graduate of the Master’s of Science in Genetic Counselling program at the University of British Columbia. She previously completed her Bachelor’s degree in biology and history at the University of Alberta. She has always had a passion for working with children, which drew her to focus on the experience of growing up with genetic disease for her MSc directed studies project. Julia is currently working as a prenatal genetic counsellor at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women in Edmonton.

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Sasha HenriquesSasha Henriques
Sasha is a principal genetic counsellor at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS trust, UK and a committee member of the Association of the UK Genetic Nurses and Counsellors (AGNC). She has a background in science communication and public engagement. In the last 10 years she has specialized in cardiac genetics while maintaining an interest in meeting the needs of all cultural groups through policy, research and clinical care in genomics. This was a particular focus in her work with the genomic patient advisory group while employed as a genetic counsellor at the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine. She has also worked as a genetic counsellor in Johannesburg South Africa where her experience of the model of genomics in a different cultural context to the UK led to the development of a package of cross-cultural teaching for genetic counsellors. This is now a taught component of the Scientist Training Programme (STP) for genomic counsellors in England. Recently she co-founded Genetics Engage a public engagement platform to promote inclusivity in all things genetic.

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Amy HoAmy Ho
Amy Ho is a cardiovascular genetic counsellor at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC, working with patients at the Heritable Aortopathies Clinic and BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program. She is a recent graduate from the MSc in Genetic Counselling program at the University of British Columbia, where she completed her research project on family communication approaches in cascade testing for inherited arrhythmias. Prior to this, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science at the University of British Columbia.

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Renee HofstedterRenee Hofstedter
Renee Hofstedter graduated from University of Toronto’s Genetic Counselling program in 2021. Prior to becoming a genetic counsellor, Renee was a high school Biology teacher for ten years. She is also a mom of four. Renee fuses her passion for teaching, as well as her family centered mindset in order to tailor her genetic counselling to her patients and advocate for their needs.

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Rebecca HoughRebecca Hough
Rebecca Hough is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto MSc in Genetic Counselling Program (Class of 2021). Prior to her professional training, Rebecca completed a BSc in Biology with a minor in Psychology at McMaster University. She is currently working as a Genetic Counsellor in the Familial Oncology Program at Kingston General Hospital.

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Laura HunnisettLaura Hunnisett
Laura Hunnisett has been working as a Canadian Certified Genetic Counsellor primarily in the area of prenatal genetics for the last 20 years and joined LifeLabs earlier this year. She completed her BSc at the University of Guelph and her MSc at Sarah Lawrence College. Laura has also worked in the areas of preconception, pediatric, adult and cancer genetics at Sunnybrook Hospital, Credit Valley Hospital, North York General Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences.

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Jaime JessenJaime Jessen
Jaime has obtained BSc in Biology from York University, and MSc in genetic counselling from Newcastle University, Australia. Jaime has earned certification from both the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC) and The American Board of Genetic Counseling (CGC). Jaime has 10 years experience as a clinical genetic counsellor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, for the past 7 years has been a resource to both healthcare providers and patients as her role as Medical Science Liaison at Impact Genetics/Dynacare.

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Jane JuusolaJane Juusola
Dr. Jane Juusola is an ABMGG-certified Clinical Molecular Geneticist. She is the Vice President of Medical Affairs and Senior Director of Clinical Genomics at GeneDx. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Microbiology and her PhD in Biomolecular Sciences from the University of Central Florida. Jane worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the FBI research lab in Quantico for 2 years, after which she joined the Molecular Diagnostics laboratory at the VCU Medical Center as an instructor. While at VCU, Jane completed her clinical training in the Department of Pathology and Department of Human Genetics. She joined GeneDx in 2012. Dr. Juusola has co-authored >80 articles in molecular and human genetics, including publications on rapid clinical genomic sequencing and identification of novel disease genes.

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Doris Kaufmann-WoodcockDoris Kaufmann-Woodcock
Doris Kaufmann Woodcock is a communications professional with 25 years of expertise in media relations & social media, issues management, crisis planning & response, public & stakeholder relations, brand integration, and strategic communications for the oil & gas, utilities/energy, health care and arts & tourism industries. She has acted as the primary spokesperson for several companies and has extensive experience with proactive and reactive interviewing for print, radio, and TV. Her skillset includes both recorded and live interviewing techniques and she has established solid working relationships with key regional and national media outlets.

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Pardeep Kaurah
Pardeep Kaurah is a PhD geneticist and Canadian board certified genetic counsellor. She received her MSc in genetic counselling at McGill University and completed her doctoral and postdoctoral work at the University of British Columbia. Her doctoral work complemented her several years as a research genetic counsellor working with individuals with hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC); the team’s work advanced the understanding of both the genetics and clinical outcomes for patients with HDGC. Her postdoctoral work laid the framework for the Hereditary Cancer Follow-Up (HCFI) Initiative and she is currently the Project Manager for the HCFI. Her research interests include genetics and genomics of gastrointestinal cancers, increasing access to genetic/genomic counselling services for diverse and underrepresented populations and implementation science in public health.

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Rita Kodida
Rita is a genetic counsellor in the Genomics Health Services and Policy Research lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital.

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Joanna LazierJoanna Lazier
Joanna Lazier is a Medical Geneticist with the Regional Genetics program at CHEO. She did her Genetics training at the University of Calgary, where she developed an interest in teaching. She then moved to Edmonton, where she participated in teaching medical students and pediatric resident. She moved to CHEO in 2018, seeking the ability to influence training for genetics trainees. She took on the role of Program Director for the Medical Genetics and Genomics residency program soon after, and continues to work to advocate and improve training for trainees in genetics. She has served on the Training committee for the Canadian College of Medical genetics and has had many committee roles within the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is an active participant in the design and implementation for the new Royal College competency by design curriculum which is currently underway.

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Samantha LeonardSamantha Leonard
Dr. Samantha Leonard is the Senior International Medical Director of Natera Inc. She has a background in clinical genetics and medical ethics, and has practiced in both the UK and France. She has worked on pan-European research projects in the area of translational genetic medicine and was a founder member of her teaching hospital’s clinical Ethics committee. Dr. Leonard has a wide experience of teaching, presenting and publishing in the field of clinical genetics and next-generation sequencing.

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Lydia-Joi MarshallLydia-Joi Marshall
Lydia-Joi Marshall has a long history of championing health equity for those who have been marginalized by race, especially in diverse Black communities. With a Master’s in Human Genetics from Howard University, she focuses on ways to improve our overall health and wellness from a basic scientific lens. Currently Lydia-Joi sits as the President of The Black Health Alliance and continues her work to advocate for health care reform as a community lead with the Health Commons Solutions Lab and a research associate with the kidney health education and research group at University Health Network.

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Heather McLaughlinHeather McLaughlin
Dr. Heather McLaughlin is a Medical Affairs Director at Invitae where she supports biopharma partnerships and sponsored testing programs. She is a board-certified Clinical Molecular Geneticist by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics and a fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. Prior to joining Invitae, Dr. McLaughlin was an Associate Director of Clinical Genomics and Cardiogenetics at GeneDx and an Assistant Laboratory Director at Partners HealthCare Personalized Medicine Laboratory for Molecular Medicine. Dr. McLaughlin obtained a B.S. in Diagnostic Molecular Science from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the University of Michigan. She completed her Clinical Molecular Genetics fellowship at Harvard Medical School. She has clinical expertise in cardiogenetics, connective tissue disorders, neurogenetics, and pediatrics.

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Ana MoralesAna Morales
Ana Morales, MS, CGC, is a Medical Affairs Clinical Program Manager at Invitae where she manages research across cardiology, neurology, and pediatrics. Before joining Invitae, she was an Associate Professor in the Division of Human Genetics at the Ohio State University. Ana is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors Expert Media Panel and Practice Guidelines Committee. She also served as the 2019 President of the American Board of Genetic Counseling. In addition, she is a member of the Clinical Sequencing Evidence-Generating Research II Advisory Board, the ClinGen Cardiomyopathy Expert Panel, and Ancestry and Diversity Working Group. Ana completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico and a Master’s in Genetic Counseling at Brandeis University in 2001. She is board-certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and a licensed genetic counselor in Ohio.

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Matthew OsmondMatthew Osmond
Matthew Osmond is the Research Coordinator for Care4Rare Canada at the Children’s Hospital for Eastern Ontario (CHEO). He first graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Science Biology, later graduated from McGill University in 2016 with a Master of Science in Human Genetics, and most recently completed a Master’s in Genetic Counselling at the University of Toronto. He also practices clinically at CHEO as a general genetic counsellor. His research interests include multi-omic approaches to analyzing rare diseases, novel methods of genomic matchmaking, and engaging rare disease patients in research through online platforms such as RareConnect.

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Guillermo Pacheco-CuéllerGuillermo Pacheco-Cuéller
Guillermo Pacheco Cuéller obtained my Master’s Degree in Genetic counseling from Université de Montréal in 2015. Afterwards, I moved to Mexico, where I work in oncogenetics for underserved communities. Genetic Counseling services remain underused, it could be for many barriers: lack of knowledge of criteria, prices of genetic testing, and even sponsored genetic testing. Finally, I hope to contribute to the growth of the Genetic Counseling profession in my community for the benefit of patients and their families.

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Laura PalmaLaura Palma
Laura received her Master’s degree in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto in 2005 and joined the Department of Medical Genetics at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC) shortly after graduation where she remains today. She is certified by both the American Board of Genetic Counselors and the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors. In her role as a senior cancer genetic counsellor, Laura counsels patients and families at risk for a variety of hereditary cancer and neoplasia syndromes, both in the adult and pediatric settings. Laura is an Associate Professor in the McGill Department of Human Genetics and is actively involved in course coordination and teaching, clinical research, and supervision of genetic counselling students and residents. She is currently co-chair of the Private Pay testing ad hoc committee of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors. Her research interests are in the areas of hereditary cancer, biomedical ethics, and alternative models of genetic service delivery.

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Karen PanabakerKaren Panabaker
Karen received her BSc Honours in Genetics at the University of Manitoba, and pursued a master’s degree in Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, and a second master’s degree in Genetic Counselling at McGill University. Karen began her career in Vancouver, and played a lead role in developing the BC Provincial Hereditary Cancer Program at the BC Cancer Agency. In 2006 she moved to London, where she is currently the Senior Genetic Counsellor in the Medical Genetics Program at London Health Sciences Centre. Karen has over 25 years’ experience in cancer genetic counselling, specifically, and has been an active member of various Ontario Health and CCO committees over the years, including the development and launch of the recently updated eligibility criteria for hereditary cancer gene testing in Ontario.

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Madhu PantrangiMadhu Pantrangi
Madhulatha Pantrangi, PhD is currently pursuing her LGG (Laboratory Genetics and Genomics) fellowship at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. She completed her doctoral and postdoctoral research at the University of Delhi and Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, respectively. Before her LGG training, she worked as a diagnostic human molecular geneticist at PreventionGenetics for more than eight years.She has extensive experience in diagnostic genetic testing in a CAP/CLIA clinical laboratory and a specialization in human ocular genetics.

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Stephanie PinhoStéphanie Pinho
Stéphanie Pinho received her Master of Genetic Counselling from Université de Montréal in 2011 and also has a Bachelor of Sciences in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the same university. Since she has graduated, Stéphanie has work as a clinical and laboratory Genetic Counsellor in a prenatal and fertility setting. Stéphanie has joined the Dynacare Genetic Counselling team in June 2016, where she works as a clinical and laboratory Genetic Counsellor in prenatal, cancer and adult genetics setting.

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Carly PouchetCarly Pouchet
Carly Pouchet is the team leader of the clinical genetic counsellors at Dynacare. She began working with Dynacare in November 2013, shortly after the launch of the Harmony Prenatal Test. She helped to quickly implement a genetic counseling service for Harmony to address the growing need. Shortly afterwards, she also created a genetic counseling service for Prenatest, Dynacare’s own first trimester prenatal screen. Carly has a Bachelor’s degree in Physiology from McGill University and earned a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University in 2008. Before joining Dynacare, she worked as a clinical genetic counsellor at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. Most of her experience is in prenatal genetic counselling and counselling for hereditary cancer, but she also has experience with infertility and adult-onset disorders, as well as experience in a research setting.

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Laura RedondoLaura Redondo
Laura Redondo is a Genetic Counsellor at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto, ON. She received her undergraduate degree in Genetics from Western University, and recently graduated from Cardiff University’s MSc in Genetic and Genomic Counselling program. Her Master’s dissertation project cross-culturally adapted the British Genetic Counselling Outcome Scale (GCOS-24), a tool which measures “empowerment” as an outcome of genetic counselling, for use in Canadian clinical genetic services.
Laura is a founding member of the Genetic Counselling Trainee Platform for Racial Justice (GCRJ), a grass-roots organization that fosters a community of genetic counselling trainees of all races, backgrounds, and identities grounded in becoming anti-racist. She is passionate about actively addressing key limitations that have been present in the genetic counselling field since its early days — the lack of diversity in GC providers, and the lack of a validated outcome measure that encompasses all benefits from clinical genetic services. She is also currently a member of the CAGC Communications and Lexigene committees.

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Louise RinguetteLouise Ringuette
Louise Ringuette is a PhD student in bioethics at the École de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal (ÉSPUM). Her thesis project is related to the protection of privacy in the context of the secondary use of personal health information in Quebec. She holds a master’s degree in microbiology and has worked for more than 17 years in public health. Between 2009 and 2018, she worked as an analyst at the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, mainly as a resource person for Quebec researchers who wish to receive personal information for research purposes (unpaid study leave). Her main areas of interest are the protection of privacy and personal health data, the integrated teaching of ethics within public health programs, the management of conflicts of interest in public health, and research ethics and responsible conduct in research. Her doctoral studies are conducted under the supervision of Béatrice Godard, full professor at the ÉSPUM, in collaboration with Aude Motulsky, assistant professor at the ÉSPUM, and Jean-Christophe Bélisle-Pipon, assistant professor in health ethics at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, and visiting researcher at the ÉSPUM.

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Samantha RojasSamantha Rojas
Samantha is a 2021 graduate from McGill University. Prior to this, she completed her BScH in biomedical science at the University of Ottawa, and worked at CHEO as a Clinical Research Assistant for the Care4Rare research consortium and Clinical Assistant for the Neurogenetics Unit. Samantha recently joined the McGill University Health Center to establish a new cardiogenetics clinic at the Montreal General Hospital Family Heart Centre.

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Jennifer SchleitJennifer Schleit
Dr. Jennifer Schleit grew up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and developed an early fascination with genetics. She received a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biochemistry and Microbiology from Dalhousie University and a PhD in Pathology from the University of Washington. Dr. Schleit received her certification in clinical molecular genetics from the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG) and served as an Assistant Director at the Center for Precision Diagnostics at the University of Washington before accepting a position as Senior Geneticist at Blueprint Genetics. Dr. Schleit is currently the laboratory director of the Blueprint Genetics Seattle facility.

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Kasmintan SchraderKasmintan Schrader
Dr. Kasmintan Schrader received her medical degree from the University of Melbourne, and completed her residency in Medical Genetics and PhD in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Her PhD work evolved to use next-generation sequencing to identify Mendelian disease genes. She was subsequently awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Clinician-Scientist Training Award to pursue her interests in cancer susceptibility gene discovery at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. Dr. Schrader returned to British Columbia in 2014 to build the Familial Pancreatic Cancer Program and in 2016, became co-Medical Director of BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program. Dr. Schrader researches the molecular detection of known and novel cancer predisposition genes and investigates the utility of germline variation in overall cancer care and prevention; in order to harness precision oncology for the benefit of patients and families.

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Alicia ScocchiaAlicia Scocchia
Alicia Scocchia is a board-certified genetic counsellor with a variety of experience working with clinicians and patients in the US and Canada. In her current role as Clinical Liaison at Blueprint Genetics, she helps to address the unique and complex genetic testing needs of clinicians and their patients, provides clinical and technical education, and leads clinical research efforts. Prior to joining Blueprint Genetics, she performed case analysis, variant interpretation, and report writing for a whole genome sequencing test for individuals with rare disease and supported product development of software tools aiding genomic services at Illumina Inc. She previously provided clinical genetic counselling in oncology, population health screening, and tele-genetic consultation settings based in the USA, and lead diagnostic assessment and cancer screening programs at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center as part of the CancerCare Ontario portfolio. She currently teaches the research curriculum while providing thesis project coordination and mentorship for genetic counselling graduate students of the Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program and is serving a 3-year term as part of NSGC’s Abstract Working Group. She received a Master of Science in Human Genetics degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree from Trent University.

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Jenna ScottJenna Scott
Jenna is Program Co-Director for the UBC Master’s Program in Genetic Counselling (GCP) with primary responsibility for curriculum development and the directed studies research projects. Over the past 25 years Jenna has supervised over 70 genetic counselling students in clinical rotations and/or directed studies research projects. Professional contributions include the ABGC Certification Exam Committee, CAGC Professional Governance Committee, ACGC Board of Directors, ACGC Continued Competence Taskforce and the AGCPD Leadership Development Sub-Committee. Jenna’s clinical experience covers a broad range including clinical research, prenatal, pediatric, and adult predictive and pre-symptomatic genetic counselling. Since 1998 Jenna’s clinical focus has been cancer genetics first as a genetic counsellor and later as Provincial Clinical Coordinator for the Hereditary Cancer Program. Most recently, Jenna worked as a consultant to Genome BC as their Health Professionals Education Advisor with the ultimate goal of increasing the appropriate use of genomics in the BC health care system. Outside of work, Jenna will try to convince you to cycle commute and practice daily yoga.

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Salma ShickhSalma Shickh
Salma is a PhD Candidate and Genetic Counsellor in the Genomics Health Services and Policy Research Program at St. Michael’s Hospital. She completed her BSc in Life Sciences at the University of Toronto and a Master of Science in Human Genetics/Genetic Counseling from Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently working in Dr. Yvonne Bombard’s Lab where she provides counseling to research participants and is focused on research evaluating the adoption of genomic technologies into clinical practice.

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Dawn SicilianoDawn Siciliano
Dawn Siciliano is a Canadian Certified Genetic Counsellor who has been practicing for 20 years. Dawn completed a BSc, Honours in Genetics, at the University of Manitoba and an MSc in Genetic Counselling at the University of British Columbia. She started her Genetic Counselling career at Xenon Genetics. She worked at the Provincial Medical Genetics Program at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital, where she provided genetic counselling in prenatal, pediatric and adult genetics for 13 years. She continued on further refining her counselling skills as a Clinical Counsellor at BC Women’s Health Centre, where she counselled women on reproductive health issues. Dawn joined LifeLabs Genetics in August 2017.

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Caitlin SlompCaitlin Slomp
Caitlin Slomp (she/her) is a certified genetic counsellor and Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC, with a BSc in Molecular Genetics from the University of Alberta and a MSc in Genetic Counselling from UBC. She works with the Translational Psychiatric Genetics Group in Vancouver, conducting research related to genetics, mental illness and outcomes of psychiatric genetic counselling. Caitlin runs a prospective, longitudinal cohort study on children’s mental health and is conducting several qualitative studies related to the provision of genetic services to patients in BC.

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Allison SluytersAllison Sluyters
Allison is a Canadian and American board-certified Genetic Counsellor with 10+ years of clinical experience mainly in prenatal, cancer and general genetics in Canada and New Zealand. After a decade in the clinic, she started working for her local laboratory and the out of province funding approval body (Genetic Resource Centre) for Alberta patients before joining Blueprint Genetics.

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Elisabeth SoubryElisabeth Soubry
Elisabeth Soubry is a Research Assistant at the CHEO Research Institute and works for Care4Rare Canada, which is a rare disease research program that bridges clinical medicine and genetic research. She works primarily in facilitating inter-site collaboration and coordinating research re-analysis. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with an Honors Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (BHSc).

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Hana SrokaHana Sroka
Hana Sroka is a genetic counsellor living in Kelowna passionate about patients and the future of genomics in medicine. She joined Invitae in 2020 as Regional Manager of Canada West after over a decade and a half as a prenatal genetic counsellor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Hana has a keen interest in elevating the profession of genetic counselling, allowing genetic counsellors to utilize their diverse skill set, and practice at the top of their scope. As such, she is keen to work towards collaborative projects and serves as the Western Canada Representative for the CAGC.

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Julia TagoeJulia Tagoe
Julia is a Canadian and American board certified clinical genetic counsellor, practicing in Lethbridge Alberta since 2010. She graduated from the McGill GC program in 2009, after completing a research MSc in Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto following undergraduate training in biology at Acadia University. Current areas of clinical focus include rare disease diagnosis, hereditary cancer and cardiogenetics. Julia has been on the CAGC BOD since 2019, with two years as Secretary and now as Communications Director. She also serves on the Alberta Association of Genetic Counsellors’s BOD.

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Eriko TakamineEriko Takamine
Ms. Eriko Takamine is a certified genetic counselor in Japan. She completed her bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in the U.S. After returning to Japan, she completed her MPH at the genetic counselor course of Kyoto University in 2017. She has been working at the medical hospital of Tokyo Medical and Dental University and goes to other clinics to promote medical genetics a few times a month. She provides genetic counseling in general fields with a greater focus with cancer and prenatal areas. Additionally, she works on building the HBOC team in the university hospital and screens cases which are of suspected germline findings from tumor profiling. She is a member of the Japanese Association of Certified Genetic Counselors Research Committee since 2020 and the Election Committee of the association in 2018 and 2021.

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Miles-Douglas ThompsonMiles-Douglas Thompson
Miles holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and has worked in Laboratory Medicine at both Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and New Born Screening at Women’s College Hospital. Most recently, he worked at the University of California, San Diego in the Biochemical Genetics clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital. Subsequently, with the University of Kentucky, he conducted field work with underserviced patients with developmental disabilities. As part of this work, he identified novel variants in the PGAP2 gene that result in Mabry syndrome (MIM# 239300). These results were published (Thompson MD, et al. A post glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) attachment to proteins, type 2 (PGAP2) variant identified in Mabry syndrome index cases: molecular genetics of the prototypical inherited GPI disorder. 2020. European Journal of Medical Genetics). He continues to work with patients and families with developmental disabilities including Mabry syndrome.

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Rachel VannesteRachel Vanneste
Rachel Vanneste completed her Master’s of Science in Genetic Counselling from McGill University in 2008 and obtained both her CCGC and CGC in 2009. Since graduating, she has held a variety of genetic counselling roles, including seven years as a prenatal GC in Montreal, three years as a sales and lab GC with PreventionGenetics and, most recently, as Saskatchewan’s first laboratory GC. In this current role, she helped create the province’s Genetic Resource Centre, whose main goal is to aid non-geneticist physicians in accessing appropriate genetic testing for their patients. She remains involved in student education, including teaching students in high school, med school and genetic counselling programs and volunteers with the CAGC, as a co-chair of the CAGC’s Lexigene committee and member of the joint CCMG-CAGC sponsored testing ad-hoc working group.

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Tasha WainsteinTasha Wainstein
Tasha Wainstein (she/her) is an experienced genetic counsellor originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. She practiced as a clinical genetic counsellor for seven years, with a special interest in cancer genetics. She was also involved in research and was a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. Since moving to Canada in 2018, Tasha has worked with the GenCOUNSEL study as a research assistant. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Medical Genetics. The focus of her research is the lived experiences, psychological adaptation, and identity development in adolescents with genetic conditions. Her research aims to optimize genetic counselling for the adolescent population. Her PhD is supervised by Dr. Alison M. Elliott and Dr. Jehannine Austin.

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Debra WatkinsDebra Watkins
Debra Watkins recently graduated from the University of Toronto’s M.Sc. in Genetic Counselling Program. She has since joined the team of genetic counsellors at Health Sciences North in Sudbury. Her research interests focus on patient access to genetics services and genetic testing technologies.

 

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Abby Watts-DickensAbby Watts-Dickens
Abby Watts-Dickens is an ABGC-Certified genetic counsellor, working in the Newborn Screening Program, in the Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics at The Hospital for Sick Children, and at Medcan in Toronto. She is a Lecturer in the Division of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto.

 

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Wanda Whitebird
Wanda is a Mi’kMaq Elder from the Bear Clan who has bene living on Anishnawbek territory for many decades. Wanda is a ceremonial elder, a pipe carrier and sweat conductor. She has conducted sweats for women and youth at Niijkiwendidaa Anishnabekwewag Services Circle in the Peterborough area, and in youth correctional facilities in Toronto. For the past 16 years, Wanda has been conducting the annual Valentine ’s Day strawberry ceremony in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Toronto Ontario. She supports communities in discussions related to sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking, bringing awareness and understanding to this important issue impacting Indigenous communities. Wanda began her working career as a penitentiary liaison worker at Dorchester, Spring Hill, and West Moorland correctional facilities on the East Coast of Canada. In 1986 she moved to Ontario to continue her work in the prison system, working with Indigenous inmates. Wanda worked for Nishnawbe Health in Toronto for 13 years and was instrumental in starting the Traditional Healing Program, which has become a staple of the Toronto community. Wanda worked as an outreach worker for the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy (OAHAS) for a number of years. In this role, Wanda spent her time outreaching, and bringing information to community members on the streets of Toronto, while embracing the philosophy of harm reduction (the ethic of non-interference).

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Alexandre White-BrownAlexandre White-Brown
I graduated from Carleton University in 2020 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Developmental Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. I am currently a clinical research assistant working with the Care4Rare Research Consortium and Clinical Genetics Clinic out of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. My clinical interests and previous work experience are focused in rare disease and neurogenetics. My future goals include pursuing a MSc in Genetic Counselling and ultimately a career as a Genetic Counsellor.

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Laura ZahavichLaura Zahavich
Laura is an ABGC certified genetic counsellor who completed her M.Sc. in Genetic Counselling at the University of Toronto (U of T) She joined the Department of Genetic Counselling at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in 2009 and has worked in various subspecialties including oncology and neurology. She also served as an interprofessional education specialist focusing on cross-cultural communication. Since 2013, Laura has worked as a cardiac genetic counsellor in the Labatt Family Heart Centre. Laura provides counselling and support for families as well as leadership for other health professionals around genetic testing and diagnosis of pediatric inherited cardiac conditions. Laura is a Lecturer, clinical supervisor, and course coordinator in the M.Sc. Genetic Counselling Program at the University of Toronto and holds a Project Investigator appointment in the Research Institute at SickKids.

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Ma'n ZawatiMa’n Zawati
Ma’n H. Zawati (LL.B., LL.M., Ph.D. (DCL)) is an Assistant Professor at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and the Executive Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy in the Department of Human Genetics. He is also an Associate Member of the Biomedical Ethics Unit and the Division of Experimental Medicine at McGill University. His research concentrates on the legal, ethical and policy dimensions of health research and clinical care, with a special focus on biobanking, data sharing, professional liability, and the use of novel technologies (e.g. mhealth apps, WGS, WES) in both the clinical and research settings.

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