Vibrant Gene Consulting is one year old! It has been a wonderful year, and we have many of you to thank for our success. Here are the highlights of our year in review.
We were honored that our research involving a father with human chimerism was accepted to be presented at two prestigious conferences: International Symposium for Human Identification (ISHI) and The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). My colleagues and I were elated when the story was picked up by BuzzFeed, it reached the far corners of the world…before being published! What a rush!
This research was particularly important because it underscores some of the ways in which our current DNA paternity (and maternity) testing can go awry. It also points to creative ways to identify chimeric individuals, and how this cutting-edge DNA testing can save relationships. I learned first-hand that false negative DNA tests are out there, and they can have tremendous repercussions on families and relationships. We have since been contacted by concerned individuals from across the globe. We aim to publish this story in a scientific journal this spring. Stay tuned!
Lastly, the first purported case of chimerism we consulted was published in AILA, “Navigating DNA Testing in Immigration Cases” (2015); and is slated for publication in Nexus this Spring (2016).
PUBLIC EDUCATION and OUTREACH
Thanks to the power of social media we reached out to a growing number of people, helping to inform folks of the latest genetic health news. We are proud to have bypassed a number of social media milestones this year including:
We were delighted to receive invitations to collaborate in new and exciting ways with new companies. Start-up companies seeking genetic advice, and outsourced genetic counseling services reached out to us. Two start-ups extended invitations to act as an advisory board member, which was quite an honor. We were successful in contracting services for two start-up genetic testing companies.
We contributed to the education of the next generation of genetic counselors by guest lecturing. Brandeis University and Boston University‘s Genetic Counseling training programs both invited founder Kayla Sheets to speak with their students. The New England Regional Genetics Group (NERGG) also invited her to share in her experience as an independent genetic counselor.
We continue to serve the genetic counselors of Massachusetts in two ways: First, by acting as the vice-chair of the Genetic Counseling Board of Registration, and second by creating and managing a private FaceBook page to help facilitate communicating about issues facing the contingency.
Many genetic counselors showed a growing interest in learning about private practice services, and thus we co-founded (with colleague Matt Tschirgi) an online, free Special Interest Group, that now has over 65 members.
We were also delighted to contribute genetic counseling material for Merle Bombardieri’s new edition of, “The Baby Decision: How to Make the Most Important Decision of Your Life.” (To be printed in 2016).
Lastly, we were thoroughly inspired by making a guest appearance on Dr. Christiane Northrup’s radio show, “Flourish!” and answering questions from live callers. The experience inspired possibly the biggest outreach endeavor yet, a bi-monthly local TV talk show on CCTV, THE VIBRANT GENE, which focuses on genetic health. Each episode features one local expert in genetic research, genetic healthcare, or mindfulness. Recordings of the show are also made available on our website each week.
In 2015, we received referrals for clinical services from a breadth of sources. From attorneys to fellow genetic counselors to doctors at major hospitals to acclaimed authors and health educators. Thank you for getting the word out about our unique services, and for the honor of helping your clients gain the insights they needed.
2015 was a year full of clinical care success stories! Here we will share the highlights of a few of the stories, of course sans any identifiable details. We were able to help individuals concerned about a false negative paternity test get a second assessment, and when appropriate, follow-up testing. We aided a couple interested in international adoption of a baby with special needs to make a life-changing decision (all within a 48 hour window!) We helped couples to conceive in a conscious way, with optimal health for themselves and their pregnancy by providing important genetic health information and testing from reputable companies before becoming pregnant. Other couples who were already pregnant but lacked access to genetic counseling care received our attention and TLC. Individuals with at-home genetic testing results were able to get professional care and were able to make proactive choices about their lifestyle.
None of these individuals would have gotten the proper care they needed had it not been for an astute referral, or by their being proactive. For this, we give special thanks to our regular referring partners:
We also received a surprising number of self-referrals from many States across the US, and the following countries: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, China, Costa Rica. If you referred yourself to us for services, we thank you for your insight and for being proactive about your health!
Thank you to the following individuals for sharing your great wisdom: Steve and Pamela S, Dr. Christianne Northrup, Dr. Richard Donahue, Maddy G,Tracy M, Ana M, Christi A, Anne DL, Beth K, Aki M, family members and my life partner Kiril.
We look forward to an eventful, collaborative 2016. Glad to have you on board!