The Genetic Counseling Program

Affiliated Faculty

Joan Stoler, MD

Dr. Stoler is the Medical Director of the Brandeis Genetic Counseling Program and has also been Co-Teaching the Clinical Genetics I and II courses at Brandeis with Gretchen Schneider for ten years. She brings nearly twenty years of clinical experience, with expertise in many areas including dysmorphology, teratogenic exposures, connective tissue disorders and craniosynostoses.

Joan is currently on staff at Children's Hospital, Boston where she sees patients in the Genetics, Cleft Lip and Palate and Craniofacial Clinics. She is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, the Interim Director of the Harvard Medical School Genetics Training Program and Director of the Medical Genetics Residency.

Elizabeth McDonald Cross, PhD
Adjunct Assistant Professor and Senior Research Advisor

Professor Cross is a graduate of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.  A former non-profit executive, Liz’s area of expertise is in conducting applied social research in human services and public health settings located within diverse and/or vulnerable communities. She oversees student master's thesis projects and teaches the Genetic Counseling Master's Thesis seminar which commences in the summer after the first year. Each student designs and implements an independent research project culminating in a presentation to the faculty and students, as well as a thesis paper submitted to the Brandeis Thesis Repository and an abstract submitted to the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Education Conference.

Aside from her role at Brandeis, Liz is Managing Director of Cross Associates, a provider of research and strategic learning services to regional and national non-profits.  She is currently serving as the Project Manager and Research Specialist for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work’s evaluation of the National Sexual Assault TeleNursing Center, a demonstration project being implemented by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program and funded by the federal Office for Victims of Crime.  Liz is also proud to serve as a Board member for the Child Advocacy Center of Suffolk County.

Joe Cunningham, PhD, Professor of Psychology

Professor Cunningham has been facilitating "Genetic Counseling Process Group" since the inception of the program in 1992. Working within a small group, he works closely to integrate students' shared experiences from field placements, coursework, internships and individual lives to becoming genetic counselors.

As a Psychology Department faculty member, Joe conducts research on children's cognitive and emotional development and on the nonverbal communication of emotion by children and adults. He teaches courses in clinical psychology and developmental psychopathology.

Judy Jackson, MS, CGC, Lecturer in Genetic Counseling

After graduating from the Brandeis GC program in 1996, Professor Jackson has spent many years as a clinic-based prenatal genetic counselor in different settings throughout the Boston area. In addition to her full-time clinical genetic counseling position at South Shore Hospital, Judy teaches Human Reproductive and Development Biology to 1st year GC students and Brandeis undergraduates.

Kate Kramer, PhD, CGC, Lecturer in Genetic Counseling

After completing a PhD in genetics and molecular biology at Brandeis in 1994, Professor Kramer went on to receive her MS in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University. She worked as a clinical genetic counselor for several years and, more recently, worked in the private sector in a genetic testing laboratory. She now teaches "Human Genetics" to first year genetic counseling students and undergraduates, and works with students on their thesis research. This spring, she will be teaching a course for the Heller School of Social Policy, "Integrative Seminar on Health".

Barbara Lerner, CGC, PhD, Lecturer in Genetic Counseling

Professor Lerner is the former Co-Director for Research and Professional Development at Brandeis' Genetic Counseling Program. During her tenure, she initiated the Family Pals program—a program in which first-year students are paired with a family who has a child with a disability. The student and family engage in social activities that give the student first-hand knowledge of what its like for a family to accommodate a child's special needs into the family structure.

Since leaving the co-directorship at Brandeis, Barbara went on to earn a PhD in Health Services Research from the Boston University School of Public Health. She subsequently returned to the program to teach "American Health Policy & Practice and the Delivery of Genomic Health Care" to the first and second year genetic counseling students and continues in the role of primary advisor for student Master Thesis projects. Barbara's research focuses on improving the quality of genetic services with particular attention to patient-centered provider communication.

Alice Noble, JD, MPH, Senior Lecturer in the Legal Studies Program and Adjunct Lecturer in The Heller School

Professor Noble is the newest faculty member in the program and is responsible for teaching "Genetics, Law and Social Policy" to the first and second year genetic counseling students. She also teaches Health Law and Ethics at The Heller School and Genetics, Law, and Society in the Legal Studies Program. She is also on the faculty of Boston College Law School and Tufts Medical School. Prior to teaching at Brandeis, Alice taught at the Harvard School of Public Health.

David Rintell, EdD, Adjunct Professor of Genetic Counseling

Professor Rintell has been teaching two courses at Brandeis for thirteen years: Counseling Theory and Technique is a first-year class that covers a comprehensive view of counseling theory and practice. Some of the topics explored are listening; observation and interview skills and strategies—skills that form the core of a genetic counseling practice.

Genetic Counseling: Case Conferences and Family Counseling is a course for 2nd year students, and is co-taught with Professor Rosenfield. In this course, case studies provide the basis for discussion of a variety of genetic disorders and the application of counseling modalities. Students have an opportunity to share experienced gained during their clinical internships. Discussions emphasize the interplay of medical, psychological, ethical, legal, social and cultural factors in genetic counseling.

David is on the staff of the Partners MS Center at the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston; the Partners Pediatric MS Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the MS Clinic of Metro West Medical Center, Framingham, Mass; and a Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Janet Rosenfield, MS, CGC, Lecturer in Genetic Counseling

Professor Rosenfield co-teaches Genetic Counseling Case Conferences with David Rintell to second year students. Students choose a clinical case of interest and apply counseling theory to the case in both a class presentation and a ready-for-publication paper. She also teaches a first-year student process group and regularly participates as a thesis advisor.

Beyond the GC program, Janet participates in a leader-led peer supervision group that meets monthly. Group members alternate presenting responsibilities which include any professional or personal issue that impacts genetic counseling. The confidential and supportive setting provides a safe haven for all participants and a way for genetic counselors to continue their education by building and reinforcing their counseling skills and best practices.

Janet is also on the Board of Understanding Our Differences (UOD). Understanding Our Differences is a disability education curricula taught to elementary school–aged children in many school systems in the greater Boston area. She is the Resource Specialist for Intellectual Disabilities and, trains the parent volunteers to deliver the unit in the classroom. The curriculum is based on people-first language that informs adults and children about issues that those with disabilities face. The curriculum educates but also emphasizes the similarities between us as opposed to the differences. It teaches students how to be an ally not a bully and an "upstander" as opposed to a bystander.

Beth Rosen Sheidley, MS, CGC, Professor of the Practice

Professor Sheidley is a member of the first class of genetic counseling students to graduate from the Brandeis University Genetic Counseling Program in 1994, and served as the Program's Co-Director of Research and Professional Development from 2005 through the summer of 2013. Currently she oversees student master's thesis projects and teaches Genetic Counseling Master's Thesis which begins in the summer after the first year. Each student designs and implements an independent research project which culminates in a presentation to the faculty and students, as well as a thesis paper submitted to the Brandeis Thesis Repository and an abstract submitted to the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Education Conference.

Aside from her role at Brandeis, Beth is a full-time Genetic Counselor at Boston Children's Hospital where she serves as Program Manager for the Epilepsy Genetics Program in the Department of Neurology. Beth sees families for genetic counseling in the Epilepsy Genetics Clinic, conducts research focused on epilepsy genetics, and serves on BCH's BEST committee to review lab utilization practices. Her areas of expertise include epilepsy, autism, psychiatric illness and both prenatal and pediatric genetic counseling.

Rachel Woodruff, PhD, Lecturer in Biology

Professor Woodruff is a full time faculty member in the Biology Department and teaches undergraduate genetics and cancer biology, as well as "Molecular Biotechnology" for first year GC students and advanced undergraduates. Rachel received her PhD in biology from MIT and prior to coming to Brandeis taught biology at MIT and Biochemistry at Suffolk University.

 
415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453 (781) 736-2000