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Genes for the Culture – An Interview with Dr. Janina Jeff

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A part of NSGC’s “Genetic Variation” blog series that aims to give a voice to diverse members of the genetic counseling community. Genetic variation refers to diversity in gene frequencies and can also relate to differences between individuals or populations.

To kick off this series, we’ll start with an interview with Dr. Janina Jeff. She’s known to her followers as the “Geneti-SIS” is the creator and host of “In Those Genes”, a hip-hop inspired podcast that uses genetics to uncover the lost identities of African descended Americans through the lens of Black Culture. Dr. Jeff was the first African-American to receive a PhD in Human Genetics from Vanderbilt University and she is a TEDx speaker, writer, STEAMinist, collegiate lecturer and hip-hop enthusiast. In July, Dr. Jeff was awarded the 2020 Advocacy Award by the American Society of Human Genetics and just this month, “In Those Genes” was awarded the 2020 Third Coast/Richard H Driehaus Foundation Competition International Impact award.

NSGC Past-President and Personalized Medicine Expert Erica Ramos interviewed Dr. Jeff regarding her role as an African-American scientist in a field dominated by white males and the goals she has for the “In Those Genes” podcast.  

Adopting consistent terms for genetic testing in precision medicine

by Christie Jett, MS, LCGC

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In an effort to improve communication between patients and providers about genetic testing needs for cancer, LUNGevity Foundation coordinated a working group of stakeholders who evaluated terms used in patient education and clinical care. Ultimately, the group agreed on three terms to replace thirty-three other related terms, in hopes of simplifying things for patients.

Ashkenazi Jewish History: What Your Genetic Ancestry Results Can Tell You About Your Health

by Devin Cox, MS, CGC

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Genetic testing for ancestry is more accessible and affordable than ever, and every day it is helping people crack the code on their family histories. These ancestry tests originally gained popularity as people wanted to learn more about where they came from, who their relatives were and what cultures they were tied to. However, the field has now expanded, and some of these direct-to-consumer tests can review DNA and provide some basic information about a person’s health history.  Even if people aren’t searching for health information when they take a direct-to-consumer test, their genetic ancestry might reveal clues about their likelihood to inherit certain conditions. Such is the case for people of Eastern European descent who find out that they have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. This particular group of people has a history that is specifically linked with certain genetic diseases and conditions.    

How to Navigate Imprecision in the Precision Medicine Era

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When it comes to genetics and what we can learn from it, the progress we’ve made can make your head spin. I became interested in a genetic counseling career in the late ‘90s, which feels like ancient history. Back then, I’d speak to families about the possibility of a genetic condition, but there likely wasn’t a genetic test available to tell us more. If we confirmed a diagnosis, there usually weren’t many treatments to help. We’ve come a long way.

Will an At-home DNA Test Tell Me What I Want to Know?

Comparing At-home and Medical-grade DNA Test Options for Health Information

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Every day it seems there’s a new at-home DNA test on the market, and two of the biggest testing companies – and 23andMe – have sold over 30 million tests combined. If you’re considering an at-home DNA test, you may have questions. Can you rely on these tests to give you accurate medical information? Are they something you can use in place of a test ordered at your doctor’s office? If so, what do the results mean?