#157 NSGC 2021 Recap


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The National Society of Genetic Counselors’ (NSGC) 40th annual conference occurred virtually this past week. In this special extended installment of DNA Today we are recapping and reflecting on a few sessions from the conference. You can also check out our recap episodes of 2020 and 2019.


Laura Hercher has been a genetic counselor for nearly two decades. She is also the host of fellow genetics podcast, The Beagle Has Landed. She is a faculty member and director of student research at the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College, the country’s first and largest training program for genetic counselors. Hercher is a writer and commentator with publications including articles in Wired, Aeon and Scientific American as well as peer reviewed journals. She is a co-founder of the DNA Exchange, a blog for the genetic counseling community founded in 2009, which has grown to over 100,000 views in 2017.

Sally Rodríguez is a licensed and board-certified genetic counselor who specializes in the area of reproductive genetics, with expertise in expanded carrier screening (ECS), noninvasive prenatal screening (NIPS), and preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). Sally was an early-stage employee at Recombine, a genetic testing laboratory focused on reproductive genetics, and developed and managed the lab’s ECS and NIPS offerings through the company’s acquisition by CooperSurgical. Currently, she serves as a genetic counselor at Sequence46, a PGT laboratory. She received her Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University in 2009 and her Master's degree in Genetic Counseling from The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2013. Sally is an active member of NSGC, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the Minority Genetics Professionals Network (MGPN).

NSGC 2021 Conference Session OD01: Advocating for Autonomy: Genetic Counselors as Champions for Comprehensive Reproductive Health with Laura Hercher

Overview of Texas SB 8 (Abortion Ban)

Texas SB 8 disproportionately affecting pregnant people

Repercussions on genetic counseling from Texas SB 8

National impact on Texas SB 8

Jackson Women’s Health Organization vs Dobbs

Increase in abortion laws vs public opinion

Defining abortion reason bans

To learn more about abortion law from Laura Hercher, check out The Beagle Has Landed her podcast episode with Jordan Brown.

NSGC 2021 Conference Session B03: The Devil is in the Details: Race-Based Medicine and Healthcare Disparities in Genetic Counseling with Sally Rodríguez

Comparing race/ethnicity based vs panethic carrier screening

How laboratories use ethnicity in carrier screening

Pitfalls of race/ethnicity based testing

Issue with self-reported race/ethnicity

Self-reported race vs genetic ancestry

Calculate carrier residual risk of being a carrier based ethnicity

Cause of disparities in residual risks

Testing for genetic ancestry as part of carrier screening

ACMG updated practice guidelines

Downstream effects of disparities in carrier screening

How healthcare providers can solve carrier screening disparity issues

Other NSGC 2021 sessions mentioned during the episode:

C02: Prenatal Testing: When Multiple Technologies Reveal More than Meets the Eye LabCorp sponsored with case presentations by Samantha Caldwell, Lila Dayani, and Deanna Hutchinson

C03: 2021 Janus Lecture: “You Can Never Feel My Pain”: The History and the Future of Sickle Cell Disease. Presented by Barbara Harrison

D02: The Routine Incorporation of Molecular Ancestry into Carrier Screening: Sema4’s Clinical Experience. Presented by Lisa Edelmann and Audra Bettinelli

Stay tuned for the next new episode of DNA Today this Friday on October 1st where we explore the genetics of ALS with Genomenon! New episodes are released on the first and third Friday of the month, with some bonus episodes like this one! In the meantime, you can binge over 150 other episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, streaming on the website, or any other podcast player by searching, “DNA Today”. Episodes in 2021 are also recorded with video which you can watch on our YouTube channel.

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