Caitlin Aldridge, BSc, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, University of British Columbia
Caitlin received her honours Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology from McMaster University. She is a recent graduate of the Masters of Science in Genetic Counselling program at the University of British Columbia. For her graduate research, as a 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, she interviewed former NICU parents about the value and impact of rapid exome sequencing. Caitlin hopes to continue to be involved in research throughout her career and has a particular interest in how to support families through the process of genome-wide sequencing.
Diane Allingham-Hawkins, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG, Chief Geneticist and Senior Laboratory Director, PreventionGenetics, LLC
Dr. Diane Allingham-Hawkins is Chief Geneticist and Senior Laboratory Director at PreventionGenetics, LLC, in Marshfield, WI. She is dual-certified in molecular genetics and cytogenetics by the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG). Dr. Allingham-Hawkins earned her BSc in Honors Genetics from the University of Western Ontario in 1987 and her PhD from McMaster University in 1993. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada in 1995. Prior to joining PreventionGenetics, Dr. Allingham-Hawkins was a private genetics laboratory consultant from 2015 to 2016 and Senior Director of Genetic Test Evaluation and Technical Editing at Hayes, Inc. from 2008 to 2015.
Kimberly Amburgey, MS, CGC, Genetic Counselor & Clinical Research Program Manager, Hospital for Sick Children
Kimberly Amburgey received her Master’s degree in genetic counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently the genetic counselor in the Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Kimberly is an instructor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. She also a member of the Canadian rare disease organizations, Canadian Gene Cure Advanced Therapies for Rare Disease (Can-GARD) and Neuromuscular Disease Network for Canada (NMD4C). As a clinical researcher, she has worked on studies of the prevalence and natural history of congenital myopathies, genotype-phenotype correlations among patients with recessive RYR1 mutations, risk of malignant hyperthermia among patients with neuromuscular conditions, new gene discovery for congenital myopathies, and several clinical trials for innovative therapies for neuromuscular conditions. She was also part of the team that created the standard of care document for congenital myopathies for physicians the family guide. In the past year, Kimberly began working with a Canadian biotechnology company, Deep Genomics, to assist with therapy development for Wilson disease.
Ingrid Ambus, MSc, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, North York General Hospital
Ingrid Ambus is a Canadian certified genetic counsellor who has been working in cancer genetics since 2001. She received her MSc in Genetic Counselling from the University of Manchester in England. For the past 16 years, Ingrid has been a part of the cancer genetics team at North York General Hospital, and since 2017 has been the cancer lead for clinical genetics. She is also co-chair of the NYGH Bereavement Support Team, helping to promote bereavement education for staff, patients, and their families. Ingrid is currently on the CAGC board of directors, working as Central Representative, and is also a member of the CAGC membership committee.
Kelly Anderson, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, CHEO
Kelly Anderson (she/her) has been a genetic counsellor at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) since 2011. She completed her Master of Science in Genetic Counselling in 2011 through the University of British Columbia after graduating with an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences from the University of Ottawa in 2009. She became an American Board Certified genetic counsellor in 2012. She is also an affiliate faculty member of McGill University’s genetic counselling training program. Currently she works full time in the Hereditary Cancer Clinic at CHEO.
Tina Babineau Sturk, MSc, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, LifeLabs Genetics
Tina Babineau Sturk has been a genetic counsellor for almost 20 years. Most of this time was spent in a multidisciplinary clinical genetic service where maximizing genetic counsellor scope of practice, novel service delivery and maximizing clinic efficiency were always a passion. Tina is now at LifeLabs Genetics where she combines direct patient care with supporting new product development, providing education to clinicians and sales team training. The continued interest in new approaches to care is still what brings her to work every day.
Kirsten Bartels, MSc, CCGC, Program Coordinator, St. Paul’s Hospital
Kirsten completed her MSc in Genetic Counselling at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2011. Since graduating she worked in various areas of cardiac genetics. First as a research genetic counselor examining the impact of Long QT syndrome on First Nations people of Northern British Columbia; then in 2013, Kirsten joined the Heart Failure Clinic and Adult Metabolic Disease Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital as the first genetic counselor to provide care in both these clinics. In 2014, Kirsten joined the BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program (BCIAP), the Heritable Aortopathies Clinic and the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital as the primary genetic counselor for all three of these province-wide interdisciplinary services. She became the Program Coordinator for the BCIAP in 2017 and is currently working as a Provincial Program Consultant for Cardiac Services BC to help inform program planning and development for a Provincial Cardiovascular Genetics service. Outside of the clinic, Kirsten teaches as an instructor and clinical supervisor within the UBC MSc Genetic Counseling Program.
Colleen Caleshu, MSc, CGC, Senior Director of Research, Cardiovascular Team Lead, GeneMatters
Colleen is the Senior Director of Research and Cardiovascular Team Lead at GeneMatters, a genetic counselor founded and led genetic counseling services company that provides remote genetic counseling services in partnership with clinics, hospitals, labs, and pharmaceutical companies. GeneMatters aims to increase access to genetic counseling by scaling, leveraging technology, and meeting patients where they are at. Colleen has been a pioneer in embedding genetic counseling services within cardiology. Her research interests include interpretation of genetic and genomic tests in cardiology, integration of genetic counselors into cardiology, mindfulness among genetic counselors, and psychotherapeutic aspects of genetic counseling. Colleen has served as a member of the NSGC Annual Conference Program Committee, vice-chair of the NSGC Education Committee, and chair of the NSGC Cardiovascular Genetics SIG. She has also served on an American Heart Association and ClinGen committees.
Melanie Care, MSc, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital
Melanie Care, MSc, CCGC completed her Masters in Genetic Counselling at the University of Toronto. She spent her early career in the Genetics Program at North York General Hospital in Toronto, ON and in 2007 joined the team at the Fred A. Litwin Family Centre in Genetic Medicine, a combined adult clinical genetics program of the University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital. For the past four years she been working in two half-time positions at Toronto General Hospital. She has clinical and research role, embedded in the cardiology department as a member of the Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic and laboratory position in the Genome Diagnostics Laboratory with a focus on inherited cancer syndromes.
Melanie is actively involved in teaching and clinical supervision in the Genetic Counselling program at the University of Toronto. She is also a member of the Channelopathy subcommittee within the ClinGen Cardiovascular Working Group. Melanie is the current president of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors.
Timothy Caulfield, BSc, LLB, LLM, FRSC, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, University of Alberta
Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. His interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and public health policy has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles. He has won numerous academic and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He contributes frequently to the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012) and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015). His most recent book is Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety (Penguin Random House, 2020). Caulfield is also the host and co-producer of the award winning documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which has been shown in over 60 countries, including streaming on Netflix in North America.
Mireille Cloutier, MSc, Certified Genetic Counsellor, CHEO
Mireille Cloutier completed a Master of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto in 2006. She has been a genetic counsellor at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Genetics program since 2006, providing genetic counselling in the prenatal, neurogenetics and neurodevelopmental disorders settings. She participates in teaching medical trainees and clinical supervision of graduate students. She pursues clinical research interests. Mireille is an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Human Genetics of McGill University.
Ian Cowie, ACP, Patient Experience
My name is Ian Cowie. I’m a long time resident of Alberta and an advanced care paramedic with Alberta Health Services in Stony Plain. I am a loving husband and, perhaps most significantly, I am the proud father of an amazing baby boy with a rare genetic disease. My son, Hudson, was born on June 23, 2019. Just 5 short days later, on June 28th, I would receive the phone call that my son had screen positive for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) on Alberta’s Newborn Screening Panel. On July 2nd, the diagnosis was confirmed. I look forward to speaking with all of you about our journey to find a cure and, as someone who is typically in the patient care setting, my experience as the patient.
Christine Davies, MSc, CGC, Genetic Services Consultant, Blueprint Genetics
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.
Stephanie Desmarais, MSc, CGC, CCGC, Certified Genetic Counsellor, Hereditary Cancer Clinic, Alberta Children’s Hospital
Stephanie Desmarais is a genetic counsellor in the Hereditary Cancer Clinic in Calgary, Alberta. She graduated from the MSc in Genetic Counselling program at McGill University in 2008, and has practiced in a variety of genetic subspecialties, focusing on cancer genetics for most of her career. Stephanie was the lead genetic counsellor for the GO-BRCA project, and currently is one of two genetic counsellors administering the Mainstreaming program for oncology-mediated genetic testing, as well as providing traditional genetic counselling care to hereditary cancer patients.
Christèle Du Souich, MSc, CGC, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, PreventionGenetics
Christèle was born in Barcelona and subsequently moved to Montreal where she graduated from McGill University with a degree in Biology and Human Genetics before obtaining her Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling. She is certified through both the Canadian and American Boards of Genetic Counseling. After graduation in 1995, 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.
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. She is also an active member of the Scientific Program Committee of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors and retains her UBC appointment teaching and supervising Genetic Counseling students.
Charlotte Emmerson, CGC, CCGC , Consultant, Recombine
Charlotte Emmerson, CGC, CCGC, completed her Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Biology and Psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, Canada and her Master of Science in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, USA.
Charlotte is passionate about genetic advances in assisted reproductive technology. Following graduation, she moved to London, UK and entered the field of assisted reproductive technology and preimplantation genetic testing at The Bridge Fertility, Gynecology and Genetics Centre. During her time in London, Charlotte had the challenging and rewarding role as the first UK genetic counsellor to introduce and integrate genetic counselling as a routine part of fertility care. Charlotte returned to Canada in 2010 and worked as a laboratory genetic counsellor at the in the molecular, cytogenetic and biochemical genetic laboratories at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Alberta. This role included guiding clinicians in identifying appropriate testing and follow-up based on family history and suspected conditions as well as overseeing the out-of-province genetic testing program.
In 2015, she began as a consultant with Recombine, now part of CooperSurgical Fertility and Genomics Solutions (CooperGenomics), specializing in remote genetic counselling for carrier screening. In 2019, Charlotte became an employee of CooperGenomics specializing primarily in preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy.
Emily Enns, MSc, Genetic Counselling Graduate, McGill University
Emily is a new graduate of the Genetic Counselling program at McGill University. She previously completed a BScHons at the University of Victoria in Biology and Psychology in 2018.
Raechel Ferrier, BSc, MSc, MA, Clinical Operations Lead / Certified Genetic Counsellor, Alberta Health Services
Raechel has worked as a front-line genetic counsellor at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary since she graduated from McGill University’s Master of Science, Genetic Counselling program in 2005. Areas of expertise include general pediatric and adult genetics (Respiratory, Otolaryngology and Immunology), as well as Cardiovascular genetics. In 2017 Raechel received a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University, and currently works closely with her wonderful manager and exceptional team to consider creative ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical processes, optimize service delivery models, improve patient outcomes, and support the wellbeing of team members. Raechel, along with her partner Matt and pooch Lemmy, enjoy spending time in nature, exploring Canada’s beautiful landscapes and communities. In her spare time Raechel can be found practicing yoga, experimenting in the kitchen, creating geographic art, or relaxing with some tea and a good book.
Corey Filiaggi, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, Maritime Newborn Screening, IWK Health
Corey recently completed her MSc in genetic counselling from the University of Toronto (2020), and now works as a genetic counsellor with the Maritime Newborn Screening program, which is housed at the IWK health center in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the past Corey completed a BSc (honours biology) from Mount Allison University, and an MSc (Pathology) from Dalhousie University.
Islay Fitzgerald, MSc, CGC, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, North York General Hospital
Islay Fitzgerald graduated from the Genetic Counselling Program at the University of British Columbia in 2014. She worked as a clinical genetic counsellor in Eugene, Oregon and Nassau, Bahamas before returning home to Toronto in 2015 to work at North York General Hospital. Her clinical focus is in prenatal and preconception genetic counselling. Islay is currently a member of the CAGC Certification Committee.
Kim Gall, MSc, CGC, Clinical Liaison, Blueprint Genetics
Kim Gall is a genetic counsellor with over two decades of varied experience. She completed her Masters of Science Genetic Counselling at the University of British Columbia and has held clinical and academic positions at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, the Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Ontario. Her love of non-clinical work started at Newborn Screening Ontario in Ottawa, Ontario and Genetic Laboratory Services in Calgary, Alberta. She joined Blueprint Genetics as a Clinical Liaison in June of 2017 and provides clinical support to health care providers and subject matter expertise to many of the Blueprint Genetics teams.
Jessica Gu, MSc, MS, CGC, Clinical Director, Genetics, Medcan
Jessica Gu is a board-certified genetic counsellor and the Interim Clinical Director for Genetics at Medcan. She obtained a Master’s of Science degree in Cell and Systems Biology from the University of Toronto, where her research focused on elucidating the genetic mechanisms that contribute to cancer metastasis. She later completed a Master’s of Science degree in Genetic Counselling from Northwestern University in Chicago in 2013, where she held Clinical Supervisor and Faculty positions while working as a pediatric genetic counsellor. Since her return to Toronto, Jessica has served as a genetic counsellor for adult patients at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University Health Network. She is now proud to be a part of Medcan’s innovative team in shaping the future of genetic testing. Jessica is also an active member of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors.
Patricia Harper, M.Sc., M.Sc., CGC, Genetic Counsellor, CHEO Hospital
Patricia received her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, where she also worked for the Public Health Agency of Canada studying foodborne zoonoses and E.coli. A few years later she received a Masters degree with the Department of Human Genetics at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s NL where she studied complex disease in the Newfoundland population, and gained an appreciation for the role of the genetic counsellor. Following her time in Newfoundland she obtained a Masters degree in Genetic Counselling with the Department of Human Genetics at McGill University in Quebec. She has been working at the CHEO Genetics Diagnostic Laboratory since graduating 3 years ago, working primarily in a variant interpretation and customer liaison role.
Julie Hathaway, MSc., CGC, CCGC, Clinical Liaison, Genetic Counsellor, Blueprint Genetics
Julie Hathaway received her Master’s of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto. She is American and Canadian Board Certified. Her genetic counselling career began in in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was first introduced to cardiac genetics. She then crossed over to Canada’s west coast and played an important role in establishing the BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program, a multidisciplinary cardiac genetics clinic. Julie is now a Clinical Liaison with Blueprint Genetic.
Robyn Hebert, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, McGill University
Robyn Hebert is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Genetic Counselling program at McGill University. She is currently a clinical genetic counsellor at Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ontario, where she works in the areas of prenatal, cancer genetics, pediatric genetics, and general genetics. Robyn is originally from North Bay, Ontario, and prior to pursuing genetic counselling she received her Honours Bachelor of Science degree with specialization in biology from Nipissing University in 2016.
Catriona Hippman, PhD, MSc, CGC, Research Fellow, BC Children’s Hospital
Catriona Hippman is a Research Fellow with the Reproductive and Infant Psychiatry programs at BC Children’s Hospital. She completed her PhD in 2020 in the UBC Interdisciplinary Studies program, co-supervised by Dr. Jehannine Austin and Dr. Lynda Balneaves. She is also trained clinically as a genetic counsellor, certified since 2009, and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry.
Rosettia Ho, MSc, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, London Health Sciences Centre
Rosettia Ho obtained her Honours BSc in Genetics and Biochemistry and MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario. This Summer, she completed her MSc in Genetic Counselling at the University of Toronto. There, she completed her student thesis project exploring parents’ perceptions after the return of variants of uncertain significance (VUS) from multigene panel testing for hearing loss. Rosettia has a special interest in rare disease research and exploring the psychosocial impact of VUS on patients and their families. She is currently working as a prenatal Genetic Counsellor at London Health Sciences Centre.
Stephanie Hoang, Genetic Counsellor, Alberta Health Services
Stephanie Hoang is a genetic counsellor with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Labs. Her research and professional interests include the role of genetic counsellors in newborn screening and other laboratory settings as well as regulation for genetic counsellors. Previously, she practiced in clinical ocular genetics and held the research study coordinator position on Dr. Ian MacDonald’s team at the University of Alberta for 8 years. Dr. MacDonald and his team developed and undertook an investigator-initiated gene therapy clinical trial for the ocular condition, choroideremia. It was completed in 2017 and results were published the following year. She is currently a board member of the Alberta Association of Genetic Counsellors and a member of the CAGC Scientific Planning Committee for this year’s conference.
Danielle Holm, BSW, RSW, Women’s Health Social Worker, Alberta Health Services
Danielle Holm is a Registered Social Worker, (RSW) and is authorized to complete Psychosocial Interventions. She has had a fulfilling career at the Royal Alexandra Hospital since 2009. Danielle joined the Women’s Health Social Work team in 2012, which quickly turned into her passion. Danielle graduated from Grant McEwan College in 2002, with her Social Work Diploma. Danielle obtained her Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) degree from the University of Calgary in 2008. During her career she has successfully completed training in perinatal and neonatal grief and complicated grief. Danielle has also completed cultural sensitivity training, received certificates in Working with Clients Who Live at Risk, and Working with Women who use substances. She accomplished her Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) training in 2016. Danielle has a special passion for working with families, this includes families experiencing a perinatal or neonatal loss, along with high risk women and substance use. Along with her rewarding career, Danielle is a mother of three busy boys. When she is not working, you can find Danielle with a cozy sweater and a hot coffee cheering on her boys at the hockey rink.
Stacey Hume, PhD, FCCMG, ErCLG, Joint Laboratory Head, Edmonton Molecular Genetics Laboratory
Dr. Hume has been with the Edmonton Molecular Genetics Laboratory (MGL) in Alberta Precision Laboratories since 2005 and currently serves as a joint laboratory head. She is also an Associate Professor within the department of Medical Genetics at the University of Alberta. Dr. Hume’s professional interests include volunteering with the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG) as the exam co-chair, and serving as the chair of the inherited breast cancer proficiency testing committee with the European Molecular Quality Network (EMQN). Her research interests include developing novel diagnostic assays (currently working on SARS-CoV-2, pharmacogenomics, and a spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) newborn screening assay), advancing mitochondrial diagnostics, and improving lab quality. The MGL introduced the TREC newborn screening assay June 1, 2019 and is now working on a project to develop an integrated newborn SMA test.
Candice Jackel-Cram, MSc, PhD, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, Saskatoon Royal University Hospital
Candice Jackel-Cram, MSc, PhD, CCGC, is a certified genetic counsellor at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon where she specializes in cancer and cardiac genetic counselling as part of a team of seven genetic counsellors and one geneticist. While her primary role is as a clinical genetic counsellor working with patients who are at risk of genetic syndromes, Candice also participates in teaching, research, and volunteer activities in the field of genetic counselling. Candice completed her BSc in microbiology and biochemistry at the University of Saskatchewan in 2003 and her PhD in molecular biology at the University of Saskatchewan in 2009. Following this she completed an MSc in genetic counselling at the University of British Columbia in 2011 and joined the division of medical genetics in RUH shortly thereafter.
Jaime Jessen, BSc, MSc, CGC, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, Dynacare
Jaime Jessen is a Canadian and American Board certified genetic counselor with 14 years of clinical experience in both prenatal and hereditary cancer. Jaime joined Impact genetics/Dynacare as a medical science liaison/Genetic Counsellor in 2014 where she has focused on somatic molecular testing including Uveal melanoma prognostic testing, Retinoblastoma and mismatch repair tumor sequencing.
Brittney Johnstone, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre
Brittney is a certified genetic counsellor and graduate of the University of Toronto genetic counselling program. She practices clinically at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto where she is also the lead genetic counsellor on a study of mainstreaming genetic testing for patients with pancreatic cancer. Brittney is affiliated with the University of Toronto as an instructor and clinical supervisor. Her academic interests include professional development and well-being with a focus on burnout.
Jane Juusola, Director of the Clinical Genomics Program, GeneDx
Jane Juusola is a board-certified Clinical Molecular Geneticist and the Director of the Clinical Genomics program at GeneDx. She received her B.S. in Molecular Biology and Microbiology and her Ph.D. in Biomolecular Sciences from the University of Central Florida. Jane then 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 in a training capacity. While at VCU, Jane completed her clinical training in the Department of Pathology and Department of Human Genetics. Jane joined GeneDx in 2012. She has co-authored a number of articles and published abstracts in molecular and human genetics, including novel disease genes.
Kelsey Kalbfleisch, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, SickKids
Kelsey Kalbfleisch is a board eligible Genetic Counsellor at SickKids in Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo, and her Masters of Science in genetic counselling from the University of Toronto in 2020. In her current role, Kelsey works as a research genetic counsellor in the Cardiac Genome Clinic, a multi-site research study utilizing whole genome sequencing to investigate the genetic causes of heart failure in both children and adults.
Peter Kannu, Chair of Medical Genetics, University of Alberta
Dr. Kannu is a Paediatrican and Clinical Geneticist who works on diseases affecting the skin and bones. After completing medical school and paediatric training in New Zealand, he moved to the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute/Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne where he trained in Clinical Genetics. He then went on to complete a PhD in cell matrix biology at the University of Melbourne. Prior to Edmonton, he worked as a Consultant Clinical Geneticist at the Victorian Clinical Genetics Service in Australia and Queen’s University in Ontario. In 2010, he was recruited to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto because of his specialist skills in the human chondrodysplasias. At SickKids, he developed the first Canadian multidisciplinary genodermatosis clinic in collaboration with paediatric dermatologists. He is now the Chair of Medical Genetics at the University of Alberta.
Jenn Karpes, RN, BScN, Clinical Nurse Educator, Lois Hole Hospital for Women, Royal Alexandra Hospital
Jenn Karpes, RN, BScN is a Clinical Nurse Educator at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women (LHHW) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Jenn started her career as a Registered Nurse at the University of Alberta Hospital in Family Medicine and then as a Unit Manager of the Family Medicine Program. In 2007, she moved to the Royal Alexandra Hospital as a Unit Manager in Medicine. One year later, she joined the Women’s Health Program as a Labour and Delivery nurse, and began teaching as a Clinical Instructor in Labour and Delivery for the University of Alberta. This is where she connected with Patti Walker, the Regional Bereavement Coordinator, and became extremely intrigued with memento making. In 2017, when she became the Clinical Nurse Educator for Labour and Delivery at the LHHW, she was slowly introduced to all aspects of the Perinatal Loss Program and this ignited a passion to ensure families experiencing a loss are well supported by all staff caring for them while in hospital. She’s enthusiastic about her current role and always looking for creative ways to engage and support staff. Jenn is married and has two daughters, 19 and 21, a son, 26 and a granddaughter who is 2. When not at work Jenn enjoys walking her 4 dogs, spending time with her family and loves to sing and dance.
Rita Kodida, MSc, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital
Rita is a Genetic Counsellor and Research Coordinator in the Genomics Health Services and Policy Research lab at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital.
Trey Langley, PhD, Vice President of Product Development and Reporting, MNG Laboratories
Dr. Langley attained two bachelor degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Biology and Clinical Laboratory Science. He subsequently worked as a Medical Technologist in the Core Lab of McLendon Clinical Laboratories at the University of North Carolina Hospitals, gaining experience in clinical laboratory operations. Dr. Langley went on to attain a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Emory University.
Dr. Langley has published on topics ranging from human genetics and immunology, to the development of novel anthrax and influenza vaccines.
Dr. Langley is certified by the New York State Department of Health as a Laboratory Director in the area of Genetic Testing (Molecular).
Margaret Lilley, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, Alberta Precision Labs
Margaret Lilley is a genetic counsellor with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Labs. Her research and professional interests include the role of genetic counsellors in newborn screening and other laboratory settings as well as core competencies for genetic counsellors. She is currently the chair of the CAGC Certification Board and a member of the ACGC practice-based competencies taskforce.
Zoe Lohn, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program
Zoe Lohn is a clinical genetic counsellor with the BC Cancer Hereditary Cancer Program. Prior to this, she worked at the BC Prenatal Genetic Screening Program and the Women’s Health Research Institute. She was the Co-Chair for Genetic Counselling Awareness Week 2014-2016 and was the Western Representative for the CAGC Board of Directors 2017-2018. Zoe is a lecturer and clinical supervisor for the genetic counselling students at the University of British Columbia. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Justin Lorentz, Genetic Counsellor, Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre
Justin Lorentz graduated from McGill’s genetic counselling program and is a certified genetic counsellor. He practices clinically at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto where he is also the lead of the Male Oncology Research and Education (MORE) Program; a registry for men with hereditary cancer. Justin is affiliated with the University of Toronto as an instructor. His academic interests are in hereditary prostate cancer and male breast cancer.
Jeanna McCuaig, MSc, CGC, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Jeanna McCuaig is Canadian and American Board-certified genetic counsellor working in both clinical and research settings at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. She obtained her MSc in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto and is currently a PhD candidate in the University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing’s PhD program under the supervision of Dr. Metcalfe. Ms. McCuaig is the recipient of the American Board of Genetic Counseling’s first Research Grant for her PhD research examining the patient response to reflexive BRCA tumour genetic testing in high-grade serous ovarian cancer.
Cassandra McDonald, Genetic Counselling Student, University of Manitoba
Cassandra is currently a student in the Genetic Counselling Program at the University of Manitoba and originally hails from Vancouver, BC. Her thesis research involves exploring attitudes and perspectives regarding population-based carrier screening in a Canadian genetic isolate, the Hutterites. She graduated with distinction with a biology degree from the University of British Columbia and while there, worked as a technician in a lab investigating the role of histone methylation in pancreas development. Cassandra is an avid cyclist and enjoys long rides in the beautiful prairies of Manitoba.
Kelly Metcalfe, RN, PhD, Professor, University of Toronto
Dr. Kelly Metcalfe is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery, at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute. She currently holds the Bloomberg Professorship in Cancer Genetics and is the Associate Dean of Research. Dr. Metcalfe received her BScN in 1996 from the University of Western Ontario, and her PhD in 2002 from the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Dr. Metcalfe’s research focuses on the prevention and treatment of breast cancer in high risk women, most specifically those with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. She has led international studies resulting in seminal research papers on the topic of treatment of BRCA-associated breast cancer. She currently holds research funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. To-date, Dr. Metcalfe has published over 100 publications, including many in top journals including Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and British Medical Journal (BMJ). Dr. Metcalfe is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the American Academy of Nursing and is a Member of the New College of Scholars in the Royal Society of Canada.
Francisca Millan Zamora, Clinical Molecular Geneticist, GeneDx
Francisca Millan Zamora obtained her MD and then completed her residency in Pediatric Neurology at the University of Chile. Following her interest in neurogenetics and rare disorders, she moved to the US to complete her ABMGG training as a Clinical Molecular Geneticist at the NIH. She’s been at GeneDx since 2013 where she has worked with the Clinical Genomics and Neurogenetics programs. Her main interests include neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.
Kristen Miller, MS, CGC, CCGC, Genetic Counsellor, North York General Hospital
Kristen Miller graduated from the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in 2010. She has worked as a clinical genetic counsellor in the Toronto area since graduation. Her focus is in prenatal genetic counselling, and predictive counselling for adult onset conditions. She is currently the coordinator of North York General’s Multidisciplinary Huntington Disease Clinic. Kristen has been involved with the CAGC Certification Committee and Media and Communication Committee.
Mckenzie Mitchell, BSc, MSc, CGC, Genetic Counsellor, Alberta Health Services
Mckenzie Mitchell, BSc, MSc, CGC, Genetic Counsellor, Alberta Health Services. Mckenzie is a certified genetic counsellor at the Hereditary Cancer Clinic in Edmonton. She also works as a prenatal genetic counsellor at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women in Edmonton. Mckenzie graduated with her Masters of Science in Genetic Counseling from Long Island University in 2019, and has since returned to her hometown of Edmonton to practice in a variety of sub-specialties, but now focuses primarily on cancer genetics. Mckenzie is one of two genetic counsellors across Alberta that helps administer the Mainstreaming program for oncology-mediated genetic testing.
This is her first presentation at CAGC and is grateful for the support from colleagues, friends and family.
Melanie Napier, CGC, CCGC, Clinical Genetic Counsellor, London Health Sciences Centre
Melanie Napier, CGC, CCGC, is a clinical genetic counsellor at London Health Sciences Centre with a focus on metabolic genetics and newborn screening. She received a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary in 2009 and a Master of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of Toronto in 2011. She has been actively involved in the CAGC since 2011, serving as a member and chair of various committees, including the Annual Education Conference Committee.
Shivani Nazareth, Invitae
Shivani Nazareth leads clinical development of chatbots at Invitae. Prior to this, she was a key member of the leadership team at Counsyl, seeing the company from startup phase through public acquisition in 2018. Her experience includes consumer and clinical marketing, health plan contracting, physician engagement and education, advocacy relations, and strategic business development. Shivani worked directly with patients as a clinical genetic counselor for over 15 years in various New York City hospitals. Her areas of interest include reproductive, pediatric and cancer genetics. She is a coauthor on several scientific studies and appears in consumer media outlets like Woman’s Day Magazine, Parents Magazine, ABC news and the Wall Street Journal as an expert in her field. After graduating from Rutgers College as a Henry Rutgers Scholar, Shivani obtained her Master’s in Human Genetics from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Aside from genetics, she is passionate about yoga, storytelling and urban gardening.
Jennifer Nuk, MSc, CCGC, CGC, Clinical Coordinator/Genetic Counsellor, BC Cancer Hereditary Cancer Program
Jennifer Nuk is a genetic counsellor, clinical coordinator and clinical assistant professor based in Victoria, British Columbia (BC Cancer Hereditary Cancer Program; University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine Department of Medical Genetics). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Victoria and a Master of Science in Genetic Counselling from the University of British Columbia. Current interests include integrating the evolving landscape of hereditary cancer genetic testing in to contemporary service delivery models, enhancing public and health care provider education and increasing access to inclusive genetic services for underserved and diverse populations.
Natasha Osawa, BSc, Genetic Counselling Student, University of Manitoba
Natasha is a current student in the University of Manitoba Genetic Counselling Program. Her MSc thesis research explores the experiences of individuals with Lynch syndrome and seeks to improve patient resources and accessibility to cancer risk-reduction services. She entered the Genetic Counselling Program with a BSc in Genetics with Co-op from the University of Manitoba. Natasha previously worked as a Biochemical Technician at the Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology where she contributed to research on the role of immunomodulatory peptides in airway inflammation. In her spare time, Natasha enjoys dancing ballet and sitting around a campfire.
Karen Ott, MS, Genetic Counsellor, Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre
Karen is a certified genetic counsellor and graduate of the Sarah Lawrence College genetic counselling program. She practices clinically at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto where she is also the lead genetic counsellor on the breast and ovarian mainstreaming study. She is also the lead administrator for Progeny and Progeny online family history questionnaire systems. Karen is affiliated with the University of Toronto as a clinical supervisor.
Erica Pai, MS, CGC, CCGC, Senior International & Operational Genetic Counsellor, CooperSurgical Fertility and Genomics Solutions
Erica Pai, MS, CGC, CCGC, completed her Bachelors of Science Honours degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, Canada. Following graduation, she worked in northern Japan for three years on the Japanese-government sponsored Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme. The skills developed working in a team-teaching environment, simplifying and explaining concepts, and working with interpreters, were all put to use through her Masters of Science in Genetic Counseling training program at Northwestern University. Her prior clinical experience was primarily obtained at Kingston General Hospital from 2013-2016, working closely with a team of geneticists, supporting a variety of clinics in preconception, prenatal, pediatric, and adult genetics. Erica entered the ART field in November 2016 as the sole Canada-based genetic counsellor for Genesis Genetics, now part of CooperSurgical Fertility and Genomics Solutions (CooperGenomics). After three years of counselling about PGT, liaising between patients, clinics, and laboratory, and supporting the Canadian genomics team, she transitioned to a more comprehensive role on the International & Operational team, where her new primary responsibility is providing support to CooperGenomics’ overseas laboratories and patients, in addition to assisting with Clinical Quality Control activities. Erica now enjoys speaking at local fertility clinics and genetics centres about PGT testing to increase awareness and understanding in her field.
Anna Pan, M.Sc, M.Sc, Laboratory genetic counsellor, The Hospital for Sick Children
Anna Pan is a board eligible genetic counsellor; she joined SickKids in 2020 as a laboratory genetic counsellor in the Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine after completing her M.Sc in Genetic Counselling at the University of Toronto. She received her Honours Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Toronto in 2015. Prior to pursuing a career in genetic counselling, she also completed a Master’s thesis focused on Li-Fraumeni syndrome and cancer genetics research at the University of Toronto.
Marni Panas, Program Manager Diversity and Inclusion, Alberta Health Services
Marni Panas is the Program Manager, Diversity and Inclusion with Alberta Health Services where she is dedicated to creating safer, more welcoming and inclusive health care related environments. She holds a degree in Health Administration and a Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional designation.
Marni was part of the work that lead to gender identity and gender expression being added as protected grounds to Alberta and Canada’s Human Rights Acts and has contributed to policy protecting human rights for individuals at all levels of governments across Canada. She was also a member of the Advisory Committee that helped draft the apology that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered to LGBTQ2S+ people in Canada in the House of Commons in 2017. She has been invited to share her experiences and expertise on inclusion, inclusive health and cultural safety for diverse health care providers, patients and their families locally, nationally and internationally. Marni is also a transgender woman, who has been very transparent throughout her journey in the hopes of fostering acceptance through education and respectful dialogue. You can often hear Marni on local and national media and has appeared on CNN and the BBC. You can also learn more about Marni in her TED talk called “Finding Courage, Conquering Fear”.
Amanda Pichini, MSc, (C)CGC, GCRB, Genetic Counsellor, Genomics Education Programme
I completed my Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Biochemistry at Western University in 2011, and my Master of Science in Genetic Counselling at the University of Toronto in 2013. I initially worked at the Hospital for Sick Children, providing clinical genetic counselling and as a laboratory-based genetic counsellor supporting clinicians regarding genetic test options and results. Since moving to England in 2014, I have been working as a clinical genetic counsellor with the Bristol Regional Clinical Genetics Service and support trainees with clinical rotations and research projects. I was the Lead Genomics Practitioner for the West of England Genomic Medicine Centre, which facilitated enrollment of patients to the national 100,000 Genomes Project. I am also currently working with Health Education England’s Genomics Education Programme, providing subject matter expertise to develop competency frameworks and resources to support healthcare professionals that will be involved in requesting genomic testing. I am passionate about educating healthcare professionals to support the integration of genomic medicine into mainstream healthcare.
Sara Rafferty, MSc, Genetic Counsellor, IWK Health Centre
Sara Rafferty is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto MSc in Genetic Counselling program and is currently working as a Genetic Counsellor at Maritime Medical Genetics at the IWK Health Centre in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to pursuing genetic counselling, Sara completed a BSc in Biology from Acadia University and a research-based MSc in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from the University of Ottawa. She also worked for seven years as a laboratory technician in government and academic settings.
Dr. Ross Risdale, BA, BSc, MSc, PhD, FACMG, DABMG, Biochemical Geneticist, Laboratory Director, Alberta Precision Laboratories
Dr. Ridsdale completed his PhD at the Hospital of Sick Children in Toronto. The thesis of his work was the role of lipid metabolism in lung disease. Postdoctoral work was completed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in the Department of Lung Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Timothy Weaver. The primary focus of his work in Cincinnati was genetic disorders of lung disease and the role of metabolic processes on disease progression. Dr. Ridsdale then completed a Clinical Biochemical Genetics Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Mn. On completion of the fellowship, he moved to Edmonton Alberta to take the position as a laboratory director of the Biochemical Genetic laboratory and Newborn Screening Laboratory in Alberta Precision labs.
Kristiana Salmon, BSc. EMBA, National Programs Manager, Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
Kristiana Salmon joined the Clinical Research Unit (CRU) of the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital (MNI/H) as a clinical research coordinator in 2011. She has been the lead coordinator on all major, international ALS trials, and has played a key role in the MNI/H being the highest global recruiter in the majority of those trials. In addition to leading the ALS & Neuromuscular clinical research program and team for the past several years, she also acted as Assistant Manager of the CRU. In 2019, Kristiana earned her Executive MBA, allowing her to bring innovative business concepts to the health care setting.
Kristiana is a member of the MNI/H ALS Clinic’s multidisciplinary care team, and promotes a seamless interface between research and clinical care. She believes that patient education in research, and patients as research partners, are crucial to the success of clinical trials. She is a strong patient advocate within the ALS community, and at an international level. Having worked on innovative, first-in-human trials for genetic ALS since they entered the pipeline, her passion for the genetic forms of the disease has driven her enthusiasm for her new role: developing a national strategy to improve access to genetic testing, to ensure that all patients living with ALS, that could benefit from emerging therapies, are identified.
Katie Saulnier, B.A., B.C.L./LL.B., M.A., McGill University
Katie Saulnier graduated from Mount Allison University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy and English) and from the McGill Faculty of Law in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.). In June 2020 they completed an M.A. in philosophy with a specialization in bioethics from McGill University, focusing on using a disability theory lens to examine the ways in which discourse around epigenetic research is changing conceptions of normative values assigned to bodies. They are a member of Bar of the Law Society of Ontario. As a research assistant and academic associate at the Centre of Genomics and Policy, McGill University, Katie was involved in research into the ethical, legal and social issues surrounding epigenetics and data sharing, as well as research on improving the quality of healthcare communication for intersex Canadians. Their other research interests include the ethical implications of depictions of reproduction and reproductive technologies in speculative fiction, issues with conceptions of autonomy in laws affecting women and Indigenous communities, and gender, neurodiversity and disability theory as they relate to the field of genomics. They have recently begun a position with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council working on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy Analysis.
Jaspreet Sekhon-Warren, BSc, MSc, MSc, Genetic Counselor CooperSurgical/BC Prenatal Screening Program/UBC Medical Genetics Clinical Instructor, CooperSurgical Fertility and Genomics Solutions/BC Prenatal Screening Program
I have over 15 years of genetic counseling experience. My employment experiences include a central role in the British Columbia (BC) Prenatal Biochemistry Laboratory, as well as positions at the BC Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Since 2017 have been working at CooperSurgical providing mainly PGT-A genetic counseling. I as well, have worked with the autism Interdisciplinary Research (ASPIRE) program, and BC Medical Genetics clinical unit. My other roles have included Key Opinion Leader for Lifelabs. In addition to my work experience I have taken on key leadership volunteer role(s) with the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselors (CAGC) representing genetic counselors across Canada, including CAGC president in 2012.
Salma Shickh, MS, Genetic Counsellor, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto
Salma is a PhD Candidate and Genetic Counsellor in Genomics Health Services and Policy Research at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. She completed her BSc in Life Sciences at the University of Toronto and a Master of Science in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. She was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counselling in 2014 and worked as a genetic counsellor at London Health Sciences Centre for a few years in cancer and general genetics. She is currently working in the Dr. Yvonne Bombard’s Lab at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto where she provides counselling to research participants and focused on research evaluating the adoption of genomic technologies into clinical practice.
Johanna Sistonen, PhD, Clinical Development Manager, Blueprint Genetics
Johanna Sistonen, PhD is the clinical development manager for Blueprint Genetics. Johanna received her PhD from the University of Helsinki in personalized medicine and did her postdoctoral training at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She has worked as a research group leader in the University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland. Johanna joined Blueprint Genetics R&D in 2015 and currently leads the Clinical R&D team.
Caitlin Slomp, MSc CGC, Genetic Counsellor, University of British Columbia
Caitlin Slomp is a Genetic Counsellor and Clinical Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry. She received her undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of Alberta, followed by her Masters in Genetic Counselling from the University of British Columbia. She works with the Translational Psychiatric Genetics Group conducting research related to the genetics of mental illness, outcomes of psychiatric genetic counselling, and exploring novel options for the delivery of clinical genetics services. She is currently conducting qualitative studies around perceptions of pharmacogenetic testing in BC and the process of integrating genetic counselling into primary care, and runs a longitudinal cohort study on perinatal, genetic and epigenetic factors that influence children’s mental health and development.
Allison Sluyters, MSc, CCGC, CGC, Genetic Services Consultant, Blueprint Genetics
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.
Natalie Spivak, MS, LCGC, Genetic Counsellor, Invitae
Natalie is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor with over six years of experience providing genetic counseling to patients in a variety of clinical areas. Prior to coming to Invitae, Natalie was a clinical counselor at several large hospitals in San Francisco, providing care in infertility, reproductive, cancer, and general genetics. Natalie is passionate about making complex genetic concepts accessible and understandable to all so that people can have more advocacy in their own medical care. Natalie holds a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Sneha Suresh, MD, FRCPC, Assistant Professor, University of Alberta
Dr. Sneha Suresh completed a fellowship in clinical immunology at the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto and pediatric infectious disease at the University of Alberta. She is currently appointed as Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology & Palliative Care in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and works at the Stollery Children’s Hospital as a specialist in Pediatric Immune Deficiency and Infectious Disease.
Emily Thain, MSc, CGC, Genetic Counsellor, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Emily is an American Board Certified Genetic Counselor with clinical roles in the Familial Cancer Clinic at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the multidisciplinary Elisabeth Raab Neurofibromatosis clinic at Toronto General Hospital. She obtained her MSc Genetic Counselling degree from the University of Toronto. In addition to hereditary cancer, her interests include innovative models of genetics service delivery. She has led implementation of mainstreamed genetic testing with breast oncologists at Princess Margaret and has recently begun a similar initiative with GU oncologists for prostate cancer patients. She is actively involved in teaching as a clinical supervisor and lecturer at the University of Toronto’s M.Sc. Genetic Counselling program.
Brianna Van den Adel, MSc, University of British Columbia
Brianna Van den Adel is a recent graduate of the MSc. Genetic Counselling program from University of British Columbia, with a background in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Psychology from the University of Northern British Columbia. She has dedicated most of her work and volunteer experience to fields related to improving and advocating for mental wellbeing, and thus naturally gravitated toward psychiatric genetic counselling in her graduate studies and research.
Tasha Wainstein, MSc, Genetic Counsellor & PhD Student, University of British Columbia
Tasha Wainstein 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. Tasha taught extensively on a variety of genetics, genomics, and genetic counselling topics at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was also involved in the course co-ordination of the MSc (Med) Genetic Counselling program. She has training and expertise in teaching using technology and online learning. Her research interests focused primarily on the genomics of inherited breast cancer susceptibility in Black South African women. Tasha recently began her PhD studies at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Medical Genetics. The focus of her research is the lived experiences, psychological adaptation, and illness identity of adolescents with genetic conditions. She will also examine decisional regret in those adolescents who had genome-wide sequencing. She works as a research assistant on the GenCOUNSEL study (https://www.bcchr.ca/GenCOUNSEL). In this role, she has been contributing to research related to the clinical implementation of genomics in the neonatal period.
Patti Walker, RN, BN, Regional Bereavement Coordinator, Lois Hole Hospital for Women/Royal Alexandra Hospital
Patti Walker, RN, BN is the Regional Bereavement Coordinator at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Patti started her career as a Public Health Nurse where she was drawn towards the families that had lost a pregnancy or baby. Then, with her own personal experience, this area became her passion. Patti has facilitated one of the local Edmonton baby loss support groups – ParentCare – for over 23 years, companioning many families on their grief journey. Patti has obtained her Death and Grief certificate from Dr. Alan Wolfelt in Fort Collins, Colorado. In November 2007, she started in the role at RAH. It immediately became apparent for Patti that this was her calling. Patti supports families at the time of the loss and then after they transition back home. Sometimes she companions families for years, remembering their little ones that died, when no one else does, and celebrating the little ones that may come after. Never as a replacement for the lost babies, but as an addition to their family. All of this passion is to honour Ernie, Perry and Suzanne. Patti has a beautiful daughter, Anastasia, who has a rewarding career in Vancouver in the film industry. Patti lives at home with her husband Cam, of 32 years, 2 spunky cats and a dog, that all make her laugh every day. In her downtime, Patti enjoys making and creating handmade cards or teaching square-dancing on the streets of Calgary during the Stampede (although not this year).
Yun Amber Zhu, M.Sc., Ph.D., Genetic Counselling Graduate, University of Toronto
I am a recent graduate of the MSc Genetic Counselling program at the University of Toronto, currently looking for a genetic counselling position in Ontario. I am interested in understanding the role of genomic sequencing in the diagnostic process for adult patients. Before the genetic counselling training, I did a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, where I designed an in vivo system to identify transient protein-protein interactions in the budding yeast. In my leisure time, I enjoy learning new things, playing video games, and hanging out with friends.