2014-2015

Kayla Claxton’s Masters in Genetic Counseling research project was highlighted in the inaugural issue of the School of Medicine’s Alumni Magazine 12th & Marshall. Kayla studied the educational and service needs of parents who have children with Down syndrome.  It was part of a larger project conceived by Dr. Colleen Jackson-Cook to illustrate the needs and aspiration of people with Down syndrome.  Kayla provided her results to a team of faculty and students in the VCU School of the Arts so they could focus the content of the film.  When completed the film will be distributed to parents, health care providers and medical and education students.  The film shatters myths about Down syndrome and illustrates how Down syndrome individuals can lead healthy and productive lives.  You can view the entire issue here. The same issue also featured one of our faculty, Dr. John Quillin, and his research (pg. 13) and a photo of one of our former certificate students, Brian Cho, who went on to medical school at VCU (pg. 19).

Marissa Mack, Kristen Peterson, Karen Rymer and Danielle Siebert celebrate after graduation ceremonies. They were all enrolled in the M.S. program.

Benjamin Morris, a dual degree (M.S. in Genetic Counseling and Ph.D. in Human Genetics) student, updates the Department on his project at his yearly seminar. Ben studies the role of the C-terminal binding protein (CtBP) on tumor cell function and oncogenesis. He is also testing inhibiters of CtBP to try to induce p53-independent apoptosis. He is the 2014-2015 recipient of the Roscoe D. Hughes Fellowship given to an outstanding continuing student.

Heather Creswick, a genetic counselor that specializes in the discipline of cancer genetics was interviewed by the Richmond Times Dispatch due to her expertise. The article was to help inform the public about breast cancer and genetic testing. Heather explained why individuals would be interested in genetic testing, how the testing is performed and what the current recommendations for testing are.

Dr. Paul B. Fisher (left) Professor and Chairman of the Department and Director of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine was on hand when his colleague Dr. Frederick W. Alt (right), Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, HHMI Investigator received the Szent-Györgyi Prize presented by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) on April 29, 2015. The Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, established by the NFCR and named in honor of Albert Szent-Györgyi, M.D., Ph.D., Nobel Laureate and the co-founder of organization. The prize has been awarded annually since 2006 to outstanding researchers whose scientific achievements have expanded our understanding of cancer and whose vision has moved cancer research in new directions.

Lauren Kaplan (right), a second year dental student, participated in The Dental Investigator 2015 Research and Clinic Day where over 50 students presenting their research. She works with HGM faculty, Drs. Rita Shiang and James Lister, and studies Treacher Collins Syndrome in mice and zebrafish. Lauren won second place in the ADA (American Dental Association)/Dentsply student clinician research award program. She received her award from Dr Berry (left), President of the VCU chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU), the national dental honor society.

All first and second year Genetic Counseling students attended the Virginia Association of Genetic Counselors’ (VaAGC) May Educational Meeting at Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The organization started informally to increase the profession's visibility in the public domain and provide representation and greater networking opportunities among genetic counselors in the state and was formally established in 2008 Pictured first row, Haley Pace, Ernestina Sanchez, second row Shannon Doyle, Melissa Beyer, Katelyn Blondino, Joyti Khokhar, Jennifer Lent, Third row- Meredith McDaniel, Samantha Rhine and Audrey Gregory.

Samantha Spencer is presenting her research, “The Role of tfec in Zebrafish Neural Crest Cell and RPE Development” prior to her defense. Samantha successfully defended her thesis and graduated in May. She was one of a record number of Masters students that graduated that semester. Other graduates included Varsha Ananthapadmanabhan, Joshua Beach, Laura Lambert, Marissa Mack, Kristen Peterson and Karen Rymer.