HudsonAlpha expanding genetic counseling expertise

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is adding two genetic counselors to the Educational Outreach team to continue the Institute’s mission of translating the power of genomics into real world solutions and to enhance the Institute’s ability to improve patient treatments and outcomes.

Genetic counseling is a small but growing field, with approximately 20 genetic counselors currently practicing throughout the state of Alabama. These additions at HudsonAlpha will double the number of genetic counselors working within the Huntsville community.

“It is an exciting season here at HudsonAlpha as our clinical involvement is increasing through new research partnerships and the development of a genomic medicine clinic on campus,” said HudsonAlpha’s first genetic counselor, Kelly East, who joined the Institute in 2008 and communicates genetic information to physicians and patients participating in HudsonAlpha’s undiagnosed childhood genetic disorders project.

Genetic counselors provide a critical service to individuals and families undergoing genetic testing by investigating family history and interpreting information gathered from both risk assessments and the genetic testing process itself. Genetic counseling has been recently identified as one of the top biotech careers in high demand, and for good reason. As more and more genetic data becomes available, the need also grows for genetic counselors to help physicians and the public understand what this data means to their lives.

“There is so much new genetic testing available to physicians, which is why a position like this is important in the medical community,” said HudsonAlpha’s newest genetic counselor, Whitley Kelley, who joined the Institute after receiving her master’s degree in genetic counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “I hope to make an impact on the patients that I’ll be working with and the physicians that we educate.”

The Institute will welcome Meagan Cochran, its third genetic counselor, in October, further increasing HudsonAlpha’s expertise in providing individuals with accurate and approachable information about genomics and genetics.