Program Leadership

Judith Tsipis, PhD, Director

Judith TsipisI received my PhD in Microbiology and Genetics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began my career at Brandeis over 40 years ago as an instructor for undergraduates in the Biology Department and as a pre-med advisor.  Shortly before beginning my career here, I gave birth to a son who was diagnosed, after many years of uncertainty, with Canavan disease. In 1992, my two worlds -as both a scientist and mother of a child with a genetic condition- intersected when I started, and became the Founding Director of, the first Master’s Program in Genetic Counseling in New England here at Brandeis. The story behind this collision is depicted in the first chapter of Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America. In the 25 years the Brandeis Program has been in existence, I have taught and mentored many students and worked with faculty to ensure the success of both the Program and the genetic counselors we graduate. I have been worked to promote the genetic counseling profession within the the local and national communities and have been involved in the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) since its inception, serving as a member of its leadership team during its early years.  I have also been actively involved in the advocacy community in many ways, including serving as a Board Member and on the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Tay Sachs and Allied Diseases Foundation and as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Justice Resource Institute.

Gretchen Schneider, MS, CGC, Co-Director of Clinical Training

2016gretchenphotorevI 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.   My involvement with the Brandeis Program however, dates back to its inception in 1992 and has included working with students as a clinical supervisor, thesis committee member and lecturer. My current role includes both teaching and overseeing the students’ clinical internships until I transition to Program Director beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year.  My contributions to the profession include being a founding member, and current Chair, 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, in the past year, I have presented to local high school students on genetic counseling as a career, lectured nurse practitioner students on “Genetics and Women’s Health” and participated in the Brandeis University Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine as a small group facilitator discussing “The Modern Era of Genetic Testing”.

Gayun Chan-Smutko, MS, CGC, Assistant Director

gayun-300x2152016I 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 book chapters on this subject as well. Most recently, I co-authored a chapter on genetic counseling for the 3rd edition of Psychiatric Care of the Medical Patient. 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. 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 of mine is promoting the profession locally, whether at HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) chapter meetings or leading classroom discussions with middle and high school students.

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.