Program Leadership

Gretchen Schneider, MS, CGC, Director

Gretchen SchneiderI received my Master’s in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College in 1992 and began my career at Boston Children’s Hospital, where I saw patients in the General Genetics Clinic and coordinated the Neurofibromatosis Program. In 1999, I joined a new genetics initiative through Partners HealthCare where I gradually transitioned from patient care to genetic education, serving the Assistant Director of Educational Activities before joining the Brandeis faculty in 2008. I have been involved with the Brandeis Program since its inception-first as a clinical supervisor, thesis committee member and lecturer and most recently as Co-Director of Clinical Training. In my new role as Program Director, I will work with students on professional development, coordinate a molecular diagnostics course, co-teach the fall semester of the Clinical Genetics course with Dr. Stoler and serve as a thesis advisor while continuing to maintain the high quality training that has defined this Program for the past 25 years. My contributions to the profession include being a founding member of the Massachusetts Board of Registration (Licensure) of Genetic Counselors, serving on the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) Exam Eligibility Task Force and being a member of the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) where I am on the Nominating Committee and the Clinical Training Work Group. I also have a long-standing interest in promoting genetic counseling as a profession and, for the past few years, have presented to local high school students on genetic counseling as a career and participated in the Brandeis University Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine discussing “The Modern Era of Genomic Testing”.

Lauren Lichten, MS, CGC, Associate Director

Lauren LichtenI received a B.A. in Molecular Biology from Colgate University in 2003 followed by a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University in 2005. Prior to becoming the Associate Director of the Brandeis Genetic Counseling Program in 2017, I worked as a clinical genetic counselor in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Adult Neurology at a variety of clinical sites throughout New England. Many of these roles involved working with underserved patient populations and I continue to be passionate about the intersection of culture and genetic counseling. I have enjoyed teaching and mentoring genetic counseling students since the beginning of my career. Most recently, I was part of the faculty of the Boston University Genetic Counseling Training Program, where I was involved in a variety of aspects of student training. I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Genetic Counselors, on the board of directors for the Massachusetts chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), and have volunteered for various roles within the New England Regional Genetics Group (NERGG), National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC), and the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counseling (ACGC). I have also been part of a genetic counseling supervision group for the past decade, which is a group that meets monthly to refine our psychosocial counseling skills through case discussions. As the Associate Director of the Brandeis Genetic Counseling Program, my roles include management of all aspects of second-year student internships, teaching Human Genetics in the fall and co-teaching the Clinical Genetics course with Dr. Stoler beginning in Spring 2018 and advising student thesis projects. I also work as a clinical genetic counselor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Prenatal Genetics Department as well as the Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence.

Gayun Chan-Smutko, MS, CGC, Assistant Director

Gayun Chan-SmutkoI am a graduate of the Brandeis Genetic Counseling Program, Class of 2002, and have been working as a cancer genetic counselor at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center since that time. I have provided genetic counseling services within the diverse clinical programs at the Cancer Center with a particular focus on hereditary renal cell carcinoma syndromes. My clinical duties include genetic counseling outreach to different community hospitals, including New Hampshire, and I have a license to practice in both states. I have presented the latest updates to hereditary renal cell carcinoma testing at the national and local level, and authored recent journal articles and book chapters on this subject as well. Most recently, I authored a review article titled “Genetic Counseling in Von Hippel-Lindau Disease: Navigating the Landscape of a Well-Established Syndrome” in Current Genetic Medicine Reports (2017).

Prior to becoming Assistant Director, I worked with Brandeis genetic counseling students as a clinical supervisor and was a guest lecturer for the Program. I joined the Brandeis faculty in 2014, where my primary focus is on teaching introductory courses and coordinating the first year field experiences for students. My role also includes Admissions and primary advisor on two student thesis projects each year. Additionally, as a way to expand our collective understanding of the lived experiences of individuals and families, I organize our yearly Wintersession series, a two-day seminar for students and faculty. Another strong interest I have is increasing the visibility of the genetic counseling profession at the local level, through venues such as leading classroom discussions with middle and high school students. These various activities and roles reinforce for me that learning is lifelong process, fueled not only by my personal and professional interests but also activated by interactions with young students, our graduate students, clinical patients and my energetic co-faculty and colleagues at both esteemed institutions. I am thrilled to be part of the dynamic and growing field of genetic counseling.

Joan Stoler, MD, Medical Director

joan-stolerI am a Board Certified Clinical Geneticist and have been working in clinical practice for over twenty years with expertise in many areas including dysmorphology, teratogenic exposures, connective tissue disorders and craniosynostoses. I am currently Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and a staff physician at Children’s Hospital, Boston where I see patients in the General Genetics, Cleft Lip and Palate and Craniofacial Clinics. I am also the Director of both the Harvard Medical School Genetics Training Program and the Medical Genetics Residency, on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics and a Member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Genetics. I have been involved with the Brandeis Genetic Counseling Program since 2002 when I began as the Medical Director and Co-Teacher of the two semester Clinical Genetics course.