Learning from genetic counselors at the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Education Conference in New Orleans

Erynn Gordon, Invitae genetic counselor

In late September, about 2,000 genetic counselors and students from around the country gathered in New Orleans for the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Annual Education Conference. Focused on providing up-to-date information on medicine, research, and counseling across all areas of genetics from prenatal care to cardiology to oncology, this is the only conference devoted to the educational and professional needs of genetic counselors.

Invitae was excited to support this event and learn from leaders in the field. As a genetic counselor attending NSGC for more than 15 years, it was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm around NSGC among my non-genetic counseling colleagues and inspiring to see the commitment that Invitae has to genetic counselors.

As Invitae’s Co-founder Randy Scott said at NSGC and previously in an NPR interview earlier this year, “Genetic counselors are the unsung heroes of this business.”

Consistent with our belief that high-quality genetic testing should be accessible to all, we believe that high-quality education should also be accessible. Toward this end, Invitae supported the NSGC meeting in several ways.

Our genetic counselors and scientists were present throughout the meeting to learn from colleagues and to present seven poster presentations, covering topics ranging from the validity of using next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels for testing deletions and duplications to interesting case reports. On Saturday we held an educational session on the use of NGS panels in oncology and cardiology, presented by Linda Robinson of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Colleen Caleshu of Stanford University.

To ensure adequate access to the conference, Invitae also sponsored conference registration and travel for 10 genetic counselors who wouldn’t have been able to make the trip otherwise. To ensure equal access to this program, Invitae worked with NSGC to select the winners.

Invitae also sponsored a book giveaway and signing by Robin Bennett of the University of Washington—an event that was one of my personal favorites. As many in the genetic counseling field know, Robin has served as a past president of NSGC in addition to many other leadership roles. Robin’s book, Practical Guide to the Genetic Family History, is a standard on the shelves of genetic counselors. The value that Robin places on family history in her practice and through her book mirrors Invitae’s focus on the family history, not only as a tool in the genetic counselors’ arsenal, but as a means to optimize the utility and disseminate the value of genetic testing.

Throughout the meeting Invitae’s Co-founder Randy Scott was on hand to field questions from the genetic counseling community. While we received requests for new products, and tweaks to current offerings, we also received a lot of positive feedback about Randy’s openness and availability, a reflection of his personal and organizational commitment to the genetic counseling community.

To quote Randy in a  brief interview he did at the meeting: “Genetic counselors are awesome, and we need more of them.”

The Invitae team at NSGC 2014 New Orleans