2020-2021

Joyce Lloyd, Ph.D.

Dr. Joyce Lloyd, Professor and Vice Chair of the department received the WISDM (Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine) Professional Achievement award for her strong academic career and as an impactful leader, supporting faculty in their career development, advocating for women faculty, and training underrepresented minority scientists. You can read more about Dr. Lloyd here.

Hope Wedding

Usually it is quite the coup to get your wedding announcement in the New York Times but 2020 was as far from normal times as one can get. Hope Wolf (Ph.D. candidate) and her fiancé, Matthew Hill (pictured), had their wedding planned for May 2, 2020, in Apex, North Carolina but canceled it due to the coronavirus pandemic. They then found that the register of deeds in Yanceyville, North Carolina would issue them a marriage license and perform the ceremony. The only catch was the ceremony would be performed at the detention center at the Sheriff’s office. Hope’s mother, not wanting her daughter to be married at a jail, arranged to have the pastor at their church perform the ceremony at the arboretum in Yanceyville. Now that is what is called a happy ending!

Walker BSDP Colloquium

Alison Gaynor, a PhD and MS in Genetic Counseling dual degree student, presents her poster for her first rotation project by zoom this year. She worked with Drs. Maria Teves and Jerry Strauss studying polycystic ovary syndrome. PhD students that matriculate into the department are first admitted into the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal until they choose a PhD program. During the student’s first year, they perform three rotations and the Dean’s office convenes the students together to present their data in a talk or poster usually in person.

Rachel Gannaway, MS CGC


Rachel Gannaway passed away on Sunday, April 11, 2021. 

Rachel obtained her MS in Genetic Counseling through the University of Pittsburgh program in 1989.  At that time, there were fewer than 500 certified genetic counselors.  She established herself as a prenatal genetic counselor and served as the Prenatal Diagnosis Program Coordinator at University of North Carolina before starting at VCU in 2005.  She was named program director of the VCU MS in Genetic Counseling Program in 2006.  Under her leadership, the program doubled in size, growing from 10-12 students to more than 20.  She was instrumental in starting the PhD in Human Genetics/MS in Genetic Counseling Dual Degree Program, the only program of its kind in the US.  She successfully lobbied for a diversity scholarship for under-represented students in the field of genetic counseling.  Over the space of her career, she mentored hundreds of students, both in genetic counseling and in other medical specialties.

Rachel also helped with growing Clinical Genetics services at VCU Health.  Under her leadership, the number of full-time genetic counselors doubled from when she first started in 2005.  During her tenure, genetic counselors expanded services into multiple specialties, both within VCU and within the surrounding community.  Rachel was tireless in her efforts to gain recognition for the role of genetic counselors in healthcare, staying active in the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Virginia Association of Genetic Counselors.

Rachel will be deeply​ missed professionally and personally.  Please consider honoring Rachel by donating to the American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/involved/donate/memorial-giving.html.