This is the seventh installment in our series, “Trailblazing Genetic Counselors”, in which we highlight genetic counselors who are pioneers in the field. Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Genetic counseling is a rapidly growing field offering professionals a wide range of opportunities, which we explore in this series. Learn more on the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ new website, aboutgeneticcounselors.com.
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Debra Duquette, M.S., C.G.C. is a leader in educating the public on health genomics practices. She has authored many journal articles and is active in numerous committees. Duquette received her Masters of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University. Shortly after, she began her career in the field of reproductive genetic counseling working at the Detroit Medical Center followed by Spectrum Health.
Duquette is currently the Genomics Coordinator at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She has served as the project manager/director on multiple Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cooperative agreements. She is the Founder and Chair of the Lynch Syndrome Screening Network (LSSN), a network of 95 institutions teaming up to promote and establish universal screening for Lynch syndrome on all newly diagnosed colorectal and endometrial cancers. (Learn more through our blogs about Lynch syndrome.)
She also leads the Michigan Alliance for Prevention Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young and is the co-chair of the National Academy of Medicine Genomics and Population Health Action Collaborative. Duquette serves on the Executive Steering Committee for the PCORI funded American BRCA Outcomes & Utilization of Testing Network (ABOUT) Network, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) Advisory Board, Institute of Medicine (IOM) Ovarian Cancer Research Committee, and eXamining Relevance of Articles for Young Survivors (XRAYS) Steering Committee.
Amy Gaviglio, M.S., CGC is the Short Term Follow-Up Supervisor/Genetic Counselor at the Minnesota Department of Health. From the beginning of her journey in genetic counseling, Gaviglio knew that she wanted to use the degree in the realm of public health. After graduating from University of Michigan's Genetic Counseling Program she started this position with MDH’s Newborn Screening Program. The role combines her skills in genetic counseling, policy development, and public health. The goal of this Minnesota program is to improve babies’ lives through the screening of over 50 rare disorders. Her primary role within this program is to oversee the follow-up of the approximately 5,000 abnormal newborn screening results from blood spot, EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention), and CCHD (Critical Congenital Heart Disease) screening each year. In addition to this work, Gaviglio also aids in newborn screening education, genetics education, health information interoperability, and genetics/public health-related policy throughout Minnesota. Gaviglio also holds a special interest in the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) issues around public health newborn screening programs. To this end, Gaviglio has focused work on population-based informed consent models, as well as the residual uses of dried blood spots and test results from newborn screening programs.
Gaviglio’s public health efforts don’t end in Minnesota; her career expands to the regional and national level with education, policy, and process development in public health genetics. She serves as the current co-Chair of the APHL NewSTEPs CCHD Technical Assistance Workgroup and just completed her term as co-Chair of the National Society of Genetic Counselor’s (NSGC) Public Health Special Interest Group (SIG). This NSGC SIG focuses on public health practice involving more genetics/genetic counseling and teaching genetic counselors about public health theory and practice. She also serves on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children’s (ACHDNC) Education and Training Workgroup, is the Chair of Genetic Alliance’s State Education Workgroup, and is a member of the Clinical & Laboratory Standards Institute’s Expert Panel on Newborn Screening.
Andrea Durst, MS, DrPH, LCGC, is the Assistant Program Director of the Genetic Counseling Program and Co-Director of the MPH Program in Public Health Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. She began her career in cancer genetics, starting a cancer genetic counseling clinic in Louisville, KY. After several years in the field and being promoted to Manager of the Genetic Counseling Service that she helped to establish, she decided to return to school to earn her Doctor of Public Health in Health Management and Policy. It was through her experiences in this degree program and her mentors in both public health and genetic counseling that she discovered and fostered her interest in public health genetics and genomics. After graduating with her DrPH, she joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, where she brings her experience of clinical cancer genetic counseling, management and public health genetics into the classroom through teaching courses in both genetic counseling and public health genetics. Outside of teaching Durst also provides mentorship to students, provides guidance on student research projects, contributes to ongoing program development and coordinates student clinical rotations.
Her research interests have focused on the state implementation of CDC Tier 1 Genomic Applications for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome and Lynch syndrome. Durst has collaborated on public health genomics projects conducted by the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics and the Genetic Alliance to develop educational materials on bidirectional cancer registry reporting for the identification of individuals at risk for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome and Lynch syndrome. She serves as a the facilitator for the Region 4 Genetics Collaborative Newborn Screening Long Term Follow-Up Workgroup.
Durst holds the title of Vice-Chair of NSGC’s Public Health SIG, alongside Chair Amy Gaviglio. She is also the Secretary/Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Association of Genetic Counselors. She received her BS in Biology, MS in Genetic Counseling and DrPH in Health Management and Policy at Cornell University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and University of Kentucky respectively.
Check back for the next episode of "Trailblazing Genetic Counselors" and read our previous episodes here! Have a colleague that you think should be highlighted in our series? Tweet us at @mygenecounsel.