Introduction: Educating Tomorrow's Counselors
The completion of the Human Genome Project and, more recently, the advent of new,faster and less expensive DNA sequencing technologies has produced a revolution in human genetics. Our understanding of medical genetics continues to increase exponentially and both diagnostic and predictive testing are now possible for more than two thousand genetic conditions. While treatment is not yet possible for many of these, new treatment strategies continue to be tested in clinical trials. Research efforts continue in an attempt to identify the gene or genes responsible for many of the more complex human genetic disorders, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Anticipating the impact of the current genetic revolution, Brandeis University established the first Master's Degree Program in Genetic Counseling in New England in 1992. Since then, the Program's faculty, all accomplished clinicians, researchers and/or teachers, have teamed up with the medical community of Greater Boston and New England to train new genetic counselors. Graduates of the two-year Master of Science Degree in Genetic Counseling have the skills to:
- work with individuals/couples who are pregnant and are at increased risk for having a child with a genetic condition or congenital anomaly;
- counsel couples struggling with infertility;
- provide information and support to families caring for a child with
- counsel couples with a family history of cancer;
- coordinate clinical research projects investigating the genetic basis
of complex conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, autism or
neuromuscular disease; and
- work in clinical genetic testing laboratories to coordinate genetic
testing and act as a genetic resource for referring physicians.
They are also aware of many of the ethical and social policy issues in the field of clinical genetics, and help ensure that personal genetic information is used in a positive way for an individual or family -- rather than in a way that might do them harm.
The Brandeis Genetic Counseling Program has full accreditation from the American Board of Genetic Counselors (ABGC).