Tribute to Rachel Gannaway

Tribute to Rachel Gannaway

It is with great sadness that we write to inform you that Rachel Gannaway passed away on Sunday, April 11, 2021.  As many of you know, she was fiercely battling cancer over the last few years.  She was surrounded by family and loved ones.

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,


M.S. in Genetic Counseling

M.S. in Genetic Counseling

Established in 1990, the VCU Genetic Counseling program has prepared over 130 graduates to work in all areas of Genetic counseling.  Our graduates hold leadership positions in the NSGC and the ABGC and are well prepared to enter the fast paced and constantly changing world of the field of Genetics.

Our Mission:

Our Mission is to develop and maintain a curriculum that effectively prepares students for successful careers in human genetics, a challenging task for a discipline that reinvents itself on a regular basis.  We achieve our education and training objectives by offering undergraduate, graduate, professional and higher-level specialty courses, as well as mentored research and clinical training opportunities.

Program Objectives:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of human, medical and public health genetics and genomics and their related sciences

  2. Apply knowledge of genetic principles and understand how they contribute to etiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, disease expression, natural history recurrence risk, clinical management and disease prevention

  3. Apply knowledge of genetic principles to understanding of differential diagnosis, genetic testing, genetic test report interpretation and population screening


The Genetic Counseling Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, Inc., 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Ste. 300, McLean, VA 22102.  Telephone: (703) 506 - 7667

Our program:

Our program is a full time, on campus program spanning 21 months.  Students take 60 total credits of didactic, clinical, and research activity. Upon graduation, graduates are eligible for board certification by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and are well prepared to enter the job market.  Of the most recent graduating classes (2018-2021):

  • 89% passed the American Board of Genetic Counseling board certification exam on their first attempt and 100% passed after the second attempt
  • 97% of matriculated students graduated and 96% of graduates have been employed in genetic counseling or a related field. 

What sets us apart?  At VCU you will start your clinical experience in the first semester and formal clinical rotations in the spring semester of the first year, continuing through both semesters of the second year.  Our students also engage in clinical experiences during the intervening summer as well with opportunities for on campus and off campus rotations.  

Please follow the links to the right for additional information or to view a full description of the program here M.S. in Genetic Counseling graduate program.


Diversity Equity and Inclusion statement

The MS in Genetic Counseling program at VCU is committed to promoting all aspects of diversity.  Each year, a scholarship is awarded to a qualified applicant who identifies as underrepresented in the field of genetic counseling.  This scholarship provides either 1) the equivalent of in-state tuition to a student who is not a resident of Virginia for the two years of their academic career at VCU or 2) 50% reduction of in-state tuition to a student who is a resident of Virginia for the two academic years of their academic career at VCU.  This cycle, the scholarship is open to those who identify as Black, LatinX, Native American, and Pacific Islander.  Students can self-identify in a variety of ways, including the program application and/or email correspondence with Program leadership.  Students who qualify for the diversity scholarship can use both tracks when ranking VCU via the National Matching Service.