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Meeting a JHU/NIH Genetic Counseling Training Program graduate will help you learn more about the program and may help when deciding whether to apply.

Coursework

Coursework for the Genetic Counseling Training Program (GCTP) is offered on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., and at the medical and undergraduate campuses of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Courses are scheduled with the goal of minimizing the number of days students have to be at different geographic locations on the same day. Nonetheless, travel between Bethesda and Baltimore is required during each week. Clinical rotations are provided in both the greater Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro areas. Car travel is essential to manage the program, although students often carpool.
 

  • Coursework

    Coursework for the Genetic Counseling Training Program (GCTP) is offered on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., and at the medical and undergraduate campuses of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

    Courses are scheduled with the goal of minimizing the number of days students have to be at different geographic locations on the same day. Nonetheless, travel between Bethesda and Baltimore is required during each week. Clinical rotations are provided in both the greater Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro areas. Car travel is essential to manage the program, although students often carpool.
     

A Day in the Life of a 1st Year Student

7:00 a.m: Wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day.

8:00 a.m: Shuttle ride to the School of Public Health. I take the free, fifteen-minute Hopkins shuttle with my fellow Hopkins peers to the Medical and Public Health Campus in East Baltimore. I meet my classmate at the Hampton House Café to pick up an ice coffee and banana before heading to class.

8:30 - 9:30 a.m: Thesis Proposal Development. We have class with our Academic Director, Debra Roter. This week, we learn about qualitative study designs from a guest lecturer faculty member at the school of public health. After the lecture, my classmates discuss the day's reading and share ideas and interests that will inspire our thesis research.

10:30 a.m: Downtime in the Hopkins library. I print out two articles that were selected by my upper classmate for Journal Club on Thursday night and fill in my thoughts for discussion. This week's topic is about how to measure the outcomes of genetic counseling and how to use these measures to evaluate different methods of communication.

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m: Carpool to the NIH. Today it's my turn to drive so the five of us pack into my car, Bertha. We share stories about our past weekend and any upcoming weekend plans and try to relax. This is a time when we also discuss upcoming assignments or work on current group assignments. We also discuss the two papers for the Journal Club next week.

12:00 - 1:00 p.m: Lunch and catch-up on work. While I eat a sandwich from the NIH cafeteria, I review cases for Supervision at my NIH cubicle by listening to my tapes from clinic and spending some time reflecting on the cases. I also work on finalizing details for my Post Clinic Conference presentation, a short lecture I will present to the NIH geneticists, genetics fellows, and my classmates.

1:00 - 3:00 p.m: Cancer Genetics. Today, my classmates and I learn how to use BRCA1/2 risk assessment models. We begin class by each presenting a case to the group in which we have conducted a thorough cancer and mutation risk assessment. Then we learn about psychosocial counseling issues and the available evidence-based research to inform counseling in the clinical cancer setting from a guest lecturer at the NIH. We end class by each sharing our ideas for our "Create Your Own Multi-Gene Panel" presentation on the last day of class.

3:30 - 4:30 p.m: Supervision with Lori Erby. Lori and I listen to my taped session, and discuss what went well and what could be improved. Then we role-play to practice counseling skills together.

4:30 p.m: Downtime and prep for Genetic Counseling Seminar on Friday. I listen to my tape from clinic and transcribe a part of a case while enjoying a bowl of my newest soup recipe. I print the lecture slides for my next class and talk with my classmates.

5:30 - 7:30 p.m: Introduction to Medical Genetics II. We walk over to a different building on campus and go to class with the 2nd-year classmates as well as the NIH medical genetics fellows and other researchers. Each week we receive a lecture from a leading geneticist or researcher in a specific field. Today's class is a review of neurogenetics, given by the division chief of neurodevelopmental disabilities at Children's National Medical Center.

7:30 - 8:30 p.m: Drive back to Baltimore. My classmates and I mostly relax, joke around, and watch funny YouTube videos to unwind from the day.

8:30 p.m: Arrive home. I talk with my husband, then try to get ahead by doing some reading for our class about the ethical, legal, and social implications in genetics, which is in two days.

  • A Day in the Life of a 1st Year Student

    7:00 a.m: Wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day.

    8:00 a.m: Shuttle ride to the School of Public Health. I take the free, fifteen-minute Hopkins shuttle with my fellow Hopkins peers to the Medical and Public Health Campus in East Baltimore. I meet my classmate at the Hampton House Café to pick up an ice coffee and banana before heading to class.

    8:30 - 9:30 a.m: Thesis Proposal Development. We have class with our Academic Director, Debra Roter. This week, we learn about qualitative study designs from a guest lecturer faculty member at the school of public health. After the lecture, my classmates discuss the day's reading and share ideas and interests that will inspire our thesis research.

    10:30 a.m: Downtime in the Hopkins library. I print out two articles that were selected by my upper classmate for Journal Club on Thursday night and fill in my thoughts for discussion. This week's topic is about how to measure the outcomes of genetic counseling and how to use these measures to evaluate different methods of communication.

    11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m: Carpool to the NIH. Today it's my turn to drive so the five of us pack into my car, Bertha. We share stories about our past weekend and any upcoming weekend plans and try to relax. This is a time when we also discuss upcoming assignments or work on current group assignments. We also discuss the two papers for the Journal Club next week.

    12:00 - 1:00 p.m: Lunch and catch-up on work. While I eat a sandwich from the NIH cafeteria, I review cases for Supervision at my NIH cubicle by listening to my tapes from clinic and spending some time reflecting on the cases. I also work on finalizing details for my Post Clinic Conference presentation, a short lecture I will present to the NIH geneticists, genetics fellows, and my classmates.

    1:00 - 3:00 p.m: Cancer Genetics. Today, my classmates and I learn how to use BRCA1/2 risk assessment models. We begin class by each presenting a case to the group in which we have conducted a thorough cancer and mutation risk assessment. Then we learn about psychosocial counseling issues and the available evidence-based research to inform counseling in the clinical cancer setting from a guest lecturer at the NIH. We end class by each sharing our ideas for our "Create Your Own Multi-Gene Panel" presentation on the last day of class.

    3:30 - 4:30 p.m: Supervision with Lori Erby. Lori and I listen to my taped session, and discuss what went well and what could be improved. Then we role-play to practice counseling skills together.

    4:30 p.m: Downtime and prep for Genetic Counseling Seminar on Friday. I listen to my tape from clinic and transcribe a part of a case while enjoying a bowl of my newest soup recipe. I print the lecture slides for my next class and talk with my classmates.

    5:30 - 7:30 p.m: Introduction to Medical Genetics II. We walk over to a different building on campus and go to class with the 2nd-year classmates as well as the NIH medical genetics fellows and other researchers. Each week we receive a lecture from a leading geneticist or researcher in a specific field. Today's class is a review of neurogenetics, given by the division chief of neurodevelopmental disabilities at Children's National Medical Center.

    7:30 - 8:30 p.m: Drive back to Baltimore. My classmates and I mostly relax, joke around, and watch funny YouTube videos to unwind from the day.

    8:30 p.m: Arrive home. I talk with my husband, then try to get ahead by doing some reading for our class about the ethical, legal, and social implications in genetics, which is in two days.

A Day in the Life of a 2nd year student

8:30 a.m: Drive to the NIH. Ten minutes from my apartment in downtown Bethesda, I quickly get on campus and park near our building.

8:45 - 9:45 a.m: Head to the gym. Our building has a small but convenient gym in the basement, complete with locker rooms and showers. The gym membership is an easy $20 per month or a $5 drop-in fee, and fitness classes are available for slightly more. Some days I go for a trail run at the Patuxent Reservoir in the afternoon or evening, but today is a little too busy for that.

11:00am - 1:00 p.m: Health Judgment and Decision-making class. Dr. Bill Klein lectures and leads discussions about the psychology of decision-making and how we can use such knowledge to help clients in clinic. As part of the class, we each present a research paper, and today is my turn. I talk about what made me want to present this paper, then review the population, the methodology, the results, and the strengths and shortcomings. We discuss the paper's potential impact on decision science and how we might use the study as a jumping-off point for further research.

1:00 - 3:00 p.m: Lunch at my desk and catch-up on clinical work. When I don't have time to pack my lunch, I go upstairs to our cafeteria for a salad or sandwich. I generally make a cup of tea in the kitchen and work on my schoolwork. I call my rotation advisor to debrief about clinic yesterday, as we didn't have time to do so after clinic. We talk about what went well and what could use improvement in my counseling skills. We also look at the clinic schedule for next week and decide which patients I will see. I work on the desktop computer at my desk prepping for tomorrow's clinic by sifting through online patient records, researching differential diagnoses, and writing clinical notes to ensure I am prepared to see patients tomorrow. I also enter last week's cases into my logbook. Lastly, I transcribe one of my cases to present in our Seminar class on Friday.

3:30 - 4:15 p.m: Thesis meeting with my thesis advisor. Lori Erby and I discuss the progress I have made on my thesis proposal, as well as any questions I have. She advises me on ways to refine and clarify my objectives, as well as ways to effectively execute my study.

4:15 - 5:00 p.m: Work on my thesis proposal. A written copy of our thesis proposal is due to the executive committee in mid-November and oral defenses of our proposals are generally in early December. I spend the rest of my afternoon writing a section of my proposal.

5:00 - 6:00 p.m: Back home. I unwind with my roommates while eating dinner and watching TV.

6:00 - 9:00 p.m: Reading and homework. I review a few more notes and papers to prepare for clinic tomorrow, then download our readings and begin one for our Facilitating Adaptation class, where we learn about the various psychological processes related to adaption. I also download the slides for our Medical Genetics and Genomics class later in the week.

  • A Day in the Life of a 2nd year student

    8:30 a.m: Drive to the NIH. Ten minutes from my apartment in downtown Bethesda, I quickly get on campus and park near our building.

    8:45 - 9:45 a.m: Head to the gym. Our building has a small but convenient gym in the basement, complete with locker rooms and showers. The gym membership is an easy $20 per month or a $5 drop-in fee, and fitness classes are available for slightly more. Some days I go for a trail run at the Patuxent Reservoir in the afternoon or evening, but today is a little too busy for that.

    11:00am - 1:00 p.m: Health Judgment and Decision-making class. Dr. Bill Klein lectures and leads discussions about the psychology of decision-making and how we can use such knowledge to help clients in clinic. As part of the class, we each present a research paper, and today is my turn. I talk about what made me want to present this paper, then review the population, the methodology, the results, and the strengths and shortcomings. We discuss the paper's potential impact on decision science and how we might use the study as a jumping-off point for further research.

    1:00 - 3:00 p.m: Lunch at my desk and catch-up on clinical work. When I don't have time to pack my lunch, I go upstairs to our cafeteria for a salad or sandwich. I generally make a cup of tea in the kitchen and work on my schoolwork. I call my rotation advisor to debrief about clinic yesterday, as we didn't have time to do so after clinic. We talk about what went well and what could use improvement in my counseling skills. We also look at the clinic schedule for next week and decide which patients I will see. I work on the desktop computer at my desk prepping for tomorrow's clinic by sifting through online patient records, researching differential diagnoses, and writing clinical notes to ensure I am prepared to see patients tomorrow. I also enter last week's cases into my logbook. Lastly, I transcribe one of my cases to present in our Seminar class on Friday.

    3:30 - 4:15 p.m: Thesis meeting with my thesis advisor. Lori Erby and I discuss the progress I have made on my thesis proposal, as well as any questions I have. She advises me on ways to refine and clarify my objectives, as well as ways to effectively execute my study.

    4:15 - 5:00 p.m: Work on my thesis proposal. A written copy of our thesis proposal is due to the executive committee in mid-November and oral defenses of our proposals are generally in early December. I spend the rest of my afternoon writing a section of my proposal.

    5:00 - 6:00 p.m: Back home. I unwind with my roommates while eating dinner and watching TV.

    6:00 - 9:00 p.m: Reading and homework. I review a few more notes and papers to prepare for clinic tomorrow, then download our readings and begin one for our Facilitating Adaptation class, where we learn about the various psychological processes related to adaption. I also download the slides for our Medical Genetics and Genomics class later in the week.

A Day in the Life of a 3rd year student

 

Woman interact with a child

8:00 a.m: Quality time with my friends at National Public Radio. They keep me company on the drive from my house near the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Baltimore to meet with my thesis advisor.

9:00 a.m: Pre-thesis-meeting visit to the Daily Grind at Hopkins for coffee.

9:30 a.m: Meeting with my thesis advisor, Debra Roter.

11:00 a.m: Pick up classmates to carpool back to NIH. NPR is great, but classmates in the car is better, and on this particular day, there's a journal club that they will be attending in Bethesda before returning to their homes in Baltimore.

12:00 p.m: Settle into my cubicle for an afternoon of data analysis and preparation. For my next day in clinic., interspersed, of course, with a little bit of fun and conversation with those working around me at NIH.

5:30 p.m: Journal club at Bill Klein’s house. We discuss the importance of self-efficacy for our patients over take-out food.

8:00 p.m: Back home again. I log on to my computer thinking I might open up my data set again, but end up chatting on-line with my classmates about our up-coming travel to the NSGC meeting.

  • A Day in the Life of a 3rd year student

     

    Woman interact with a child

    8:00 a.m: Quality time with my friends at National Public Radio. They keep me company on the drive from my house near the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Baltimore to meet with my thesis advisor.

    9:00 a.m: Pre-thesis-meeting visit to the Daily Grind at Hopkins for coffee.

    9:30 a.m: Meeting with my thesis advisor, Debra Roter.

    11:00 a.m: Pick up classmates to carpool back to NIH. NPR is great, but classmates in the car is better, and on this particular day, there's a journal club that they will be attending in Bethesda before returning to their homes in Baltimore.

    12:00 p.m: Settle into my cubicle for an afternoon of data analysis and preparation. For my next day in clinic., interspersed, of course, with a little bit of fun and conversation with those working around me at NIH.

    5:30 p.m: Journal club at Bill Klein’s house. We discuss the importance of self-efficacy for our patients over take-out food.

    8:00 p.m: Back home again. I log on to my computer thinking I might open up my data set again, but end up chatting on-line with my classmates about our up-coming travel to the NSGC meeting.

Meet a Graduate Student

JHU/NIH Genetic Counseling Training Program (GCTP) alumni in the below-listed locations are available to meet with interested applicants. Meeting a graduate provides the chance to learn more about the GCTP, and may help when deciding whether to apply. An informational meeting may also provide the Admissions Committee with additional information about applicants because the alumnus will send the office a short note about the meeting, which will be included in the application file.

Meeting a graduate does not substitute for interviewing with members of the Admissions Committee. Interviews with the Admissions Committee are held by invitation only.

To meet a graduate in one of the following locations, please contact our office to obtain contact information for a graduate:

Lori A.H. Erby, Sc.M, Ph.D., C.G.G
Associate Director, Genetic Counseling Training Program
National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

On receiving a graduate's contact information, it is the applicant's responsibility to contact the graduate and schedule a mutually agreeable meeting time and place. The meeting can take place at the graduate's workplace, a coffee shop, etc. Meetings should take place in-person and not over the phone.

Meeting a graduate is optional. Applicants who do not meet a graduate are not penalized.

Meet a Graduate Locations

United States

Little Rock, Ark.
Duarte, Calif.
Los Angeles, Calif.
San Francisco, Calif.
Washington, D.C.
Saint Petersburg, Fla.
Atlanta, Ga.
Iowa City, Iowa
Boston, Mass.
Baltimore, Md.
Bethesda, Md.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
Jackson, Mo.
Kansas City, Mo.
Asheville, N.C.
Binghamton, N.Y.
New York City, N.Y.
Rochester, N.Y.
Bend, Ore.
Philadelphia, Pa.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Nashville, Tenn.
Austin, Texas
Houston, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Charlottesville, Va.
Kirkland, Wash.

Internationally

Brisbane, Australia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Tokyo, Japan

  • Meet a Graduate Student

    JHU/NIH Genetic Counseling Training Program (GCTP) alumni in the below-listed locations are available to meet with interested applicants. Meeting a graduate provides the chance to learn more about the GCTP, and may help when deciding whether to apply. An informational meeting may also provide the Admissions Committee with additional information about applicants because the alumnus will send the office a short note about the meeting, which will be included in the application file.

    Meeting a graduate does not substitute for interviewing with members of the Admissions Committee. Interviews with the Admissions Committee are held by invitation only.

    To meet a graduate in one of the following locations, please contact our office to obtain contact information for a graduate:

    Lori A.H. Erby, Sc.M, Ph.D., C.G.G
    Associate Director, Genetic Counseling Training Program
    National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

    On receiving a graduate's contact information, it is the applicant's responsibility to contact the graduate and schedule a mutually agreeable meeting time and place. The meeting can take place at the graduate's workplace, a coffee shop, etc. Meetings should take place in-person and not over the phone.

    Meeting a graduate is optional. Applicants who do not meet a graduate are not penalized.

    Meet a Graduate Locations

    United States

    Little Rock, Ark.
    Duarte, Calif.
    Los Angeles, Calif.
    San Francisco, Calif.
    Washington, D.C.
    Saint Petersburg, Fla.
    Atlanta, Ga.
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Boston, Mass.
    Baltimore, Md.
    Bethesda, Md.
    Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
    Jackson, Mo.
    Kansas City, Mo.
    Asheville, N.C.
    Binghamton, N.Y.
    New York City, N.Y.
    Rochester, N.Y.
    Bend, Ore.
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Sioux Falls, S.D.
    Nashville, Tenn.
    Austin, Texas
    Houston, Texas
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Charlottesville, Va.
    Kirkland, Wash.

    Internationally

    Brisbane, Australia
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
    Tokyo, Japan

Meet Our Current Students

Class of 2021
Liesl Broadbridge

LIesl BroadbridgeLiesl Broadbridge was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Graphic Design. While at UW-Madison, Liesl worked as an undergraduate research assistant, volunteered at the Children's Hospital, served as co-director of UW's peer tutor organization, and tutored organic chemistry. Following graduation she moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a research fellowship through the National Human Genome Research Institute in Dr. Paul Liu's lab studying Acute Myeloid Leukemia and other hematopoietic malignancies. In addition to lab work at the NIH, Liesl spent time shadowing genetic counselors, attending conferences, and generally learning as much as possible about the Genetic Counseling profession! Since moving to DC, Liesl has found community connections by volunteering as a grief counselor for a family support group in Prince George's County. Outside of school and work, Liesl has taught competitive dance in both Wisconsin and DC for the last 7 years and continues to take classes herself as often as possible!


Amelia Mulford

Amelia MulfordAmelia Mulford is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, after studying abroad for a semester in Valparaíso, Chile. As a senior in college, she interned with a pediatric genetic counselor at Oregon Health & Science University and developed an interest in late-onset genetic diseases. Amelia previously worked in a behavioral neuroscience lab, examining the effects of apoE genotype and environmental factors on brain structure and function in a mouse model. She was most recently a program coordinator at the health advocacy non-profit Genetic Alliance in Washington, DC, where she concentrated on maternal-child health and newborn screening educational initiatives. Amelia has volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House and with PRS CrisisLink's CareRing program, providing social support and referral services to at-risk adults. Amelia enjoys cooking, hiking, swimming, and singing in local choirs.


Stephanie Riley

Stephanie RileyStephanie Riley graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology and Child Development and a minor in Biological Sciences. At Vanderbilt, she worked in Dr. Bruce Compas's lab doing research on stress, coping, and communication in families with kids with cancer. She spent her summers working as a one-on-one companion for children with disabilities in park district camps and volunteering at a Serious Fun Network camp for children with serious and life-threatening illnesses. Since graduating, Stephanie has spent the past 2 years working at GeneDx as a genetic counseling assistant on their Clinical Genomics team and as a member of the XomeXpress (rapid WES) team. In her free time, Stephanie loves to play board games, watch reality TV, read, and quote The Office.

 


Caralynn Wilczewski

Caralynn WilczewskiCaralynn Wilczewski received her B.S. with Honors in Biology from Loyola University Chicago in 2013. During college, she worked in patient care at a hospital and participated in undergraduate research. She continued her education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she received a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology in 2018. Her research in Frank Conlon's lab uncovered a novel role for a chromatin remodeling complex regulating skeletal and smooth muscle type genes in the developing heart. Caralynn received numerous fellowships and awards in support of her research. While in Chapel Hill, Caralynn volunteered with the Adapted Recreation and Inclusion program teaching swimming lessons and facilitating social interactions for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. She also worked as a hotline advocate providing crisis counseling for a domestic violence agency. In her spare time, Caralynn engages in public science outreach, using 3D-printed models of congenital heart disease to share her passion for science and genetics. 

  • Meet Our Current Students
    Class of 2021
    Liesl Broadbridge

    LIesl BroadbridgeLiesl Broadbridge was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Graphic Design. While at UW-Madison, Liesl worked as an undergraduate research assistant, volunteered at the Children's Hospital, served as co-director of UW's peer tutor organization, and tutored organic chemistry. Following graduation she moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a research fellowship through the National Human Genome Research Institute in Dr. Paul Liu's lab studying Acute Myeloid Leukemia and other hematopoietic malignancies. In addition to lab work at the NIH, Liesl spent time shadowing genetic counselors, attending conferences, and generally learning as much as possible about the Genetic Counseling profession! Since moving to DC, Liesl has found community connections by volunteering as a grief counselor for a family support group in Prince George's County. Outside of school and work, Liesl has taught competitive dance in both Wisconsin and DC for the last 7 years and continues to take classes herself as often as possible!


    Amelia Mulford

    Amelia MulfordAmelia Mulford is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, after studying abroad for a semester in Valparaíso, Chile. As a senior in college, she interned with a pediatric genetic counselor at Oregon Health & Science University and developed an interest in late-onset genetic diseases. Amelia previously worked in a behavioral neuroscience lab, examining the effects of apoE genotype and environmental factors on brain structure and function in a mouse model. She was most recently a program coordinator at the health advocacy non-profit Genetic Alliance in Washington, DC, where she concentrated on maternal-child health and newborn screening educational initiatives. Amelia has volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House and with PRS CrisisLink's CareRing program, providing social support and referral services to at-risk adults. Amelia enjoys cooking, hiking, swimming, and singing in local choirs.


    Stephanie Riley

    Stephanie RileyStephanie Riley graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology and Child Development and a minor in Biological Sciences. At Vanderbilt, she worked in Dr. Bruce Compas's lab doing research on stress, coping, and communication in families with kids with cancer. She spent her summers working as a one-on-one companion for children with disabilities in park district camps and volunteering at a Serious Fun Network camp for children with serious and life-threatening illnesses. Since graduating, Stephanie has spent the past 2 years working at GeneDx as a genetic counseling assistant on their Clinical Genomics team and as a member of the XomeXpress (rapid WES) team. In her free time, Stephanie loves to play board games, watch reality TV, read, and quote The Office.

     


    Caralynn Wilczewski

    Caralynn WilczewskiCaralynn Wilczewski received her B.S. with Honors in Biology from Loyola University Chicago in 2013. During college, she worked in patient care at a hospital and participated in undergraduate research. She continued her education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she received a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology in 2018. Her research in Frank Conlon's lab uncovered a novel role for a chromatin remodeling complex regulating skeletal and smooth muscle type genes in the developing heart. Caralynn received numerous fellowships and awards in support of her research. While in Chapel Hill, Caralynn volunteered with the Adapted Recreation and Inclusion program teaching swimming lessons and facilitating social interactions for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. She also worked as a hotline advocate providing crisis counseling for a domestic violence agency. In her spare time, Caralynn engages in public science outreach, using 3D-printed models of congenital heart disease to share her passion for science and genetics. 

Meet Our Current Students - Class of 2022

  • Meet Our Current Students - Class of 2022
    Jada Pugh

    Jada Pugh

    Pre-Doctoral IRTA Fellow Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Jada Pugh graduated from Auburn University in May of 2019 with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphases in Biology and Psychology. She spent her summers in basic research, as a Genetic Counseling Intern at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and as an NSF Bioinformatics Fellow working with Dr. Nancy Merner to engage local minority communities in Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer research in Alabama. In addition to these immersive summers, Jada has served as a Client Advocate at Women’s Hope Medical Center, shadowed genetic counselors, and attended NSGC to prepare for matriculation. In her free time, she enjoys coaching and playing volleyball, running through Patterson Park, petting dogs, and days at the beach.

    Wes Solem

    Wes Solem

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Fellow Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Wes Solem graduated from Western Washington University (WWU) in 2019 with a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Biology. As an undergraduate at WWU, he worked as a laboratory assistant in the lab of Dr. Jeff Carroll, studying the neurobiology and behavior of mice modeling Huntington’s disease. Wes was a Donald A. King Summer Research Fellow for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) and presented this research at HDSA’s 34th annual convention in Boston, Mass. In 2018, Wes completed an internship in neurodiagnostics at PeaceHealth Cascade Brain & Spine Center, as well as Northwestern University’s summer internship in genetic counseling. He also volunteered as a one-on-one peer sexual health educator at WWU and a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. Wes enjoys cats, coffee and alliteration.

    Ben Ackman

    Ben Akman

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Fellow Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Ben Akman is a native of Towson, Maryland. He graduated from University of Maryland at College Park in 2017 with a B.S. in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. Throughout his undergrad career, Ben worked as a research assistant, first in a lab at Johns Hopkins studying the connection between epigenetics and ovarian cancer and then in a lab at UMD studying the use of entomopathogenic fungi as a biopesticide targeting stinkbugs. After graduation, he conducted a two year post-baccalaureate research fellowship with Dinah Singer at the National Cancer institute studying interactions between the transcriptional regulation protein BRD4 and the oncoprotein C-MYC. Outside of the lab Ben was an officer for the service group Vintage Voices, which brought oldies music and good company to seniors in assisted living and nursing homes. He was also part of the Nerds in Harmony, an acapella made up of fellows and other scientists who work at the NIH. Ben enjoys birdwatching, going on hikes, playing video games and singing in choral groups.    

    Margaret Sidor

    Margaret Sidor, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral IRTA Fellow Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Margaret Sidor grew up in a small town in the Hudson Valley region of New York. She received her B.S. from the University of Rochester in 2006; she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Genetics also from the University of Rochester in 2013. Her thesis explored novel roles for a conserved guanylate kinase in development and neuron function in the nematode C. elegans. After graduating, Margaret pursued her enjoyment of teaching through working as an educator at both the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester and the Detroit Zoo. More recently, she worked for the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, which offers therapeutic riding instruction and hippotherapy to adults and children with disabilities. For several years, she has also volunteered as a crisis counselor with the Crisis Text Line. In her free time, Margaret enjoys hiking and camping with her husband in the many beautiful parks in the area.

    Jalisa Decker

    JaLisa Decker

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Fellow Genetic Counseling Training Program

    JaLisa Decker studied Biology at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina as a Hollingsworth Scholar, receiving her B.S. in 2019 with honors. As an undergraduate, JaLisa contributed to research at Furman on transcription factors in cancer cells as well as research at Samford University on vitamin transport in the human gut microbiota. She volunteered for Mental Health America’s crisis and suicide hotline for three years while also connecting others to crisis center volunteer opportunities through Furman University’s Heller Service Corps. In pursuing her passion for working with children, she served as a summer counselor to help children with various medical conditions have a fun and safe experience at Camp Rise Above. JaLisa shadowed genetic counselors and geneticists for several weeks at Greenwood Genetic Center and interned for four months with genetic counselors at the Cancer Institute of Greenville Health System. In addition to her professional pursuits, JaLisa enjoys exploring farmer’s markets, planning embroidery projects and trying out new recipes whenever she can!

    Najdalisse Reynolds-Lallament

    Nadjalisse Reynolds-Lallement

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Fellow Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Nadjalisse Reynolds-Lallement received her B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Oregon State University in 2018. At OSU, she completed an undergraduate thesis on age-related differences in brain activations during spatial memory formation. Outside of class, Nadjalisse was a STEM tutor for high school and undergraduate students and a student social media writer for OSU's science department.  She has also volunteered as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. After graduating, she worked as a faculty research assistant investigating the effects of multivitamin use and military service on cognitive aging. In her free time, Nadjalisse enjoys cooking, hiking, and exploring the Baltimore-DC area.

Meet Our Current Students - Class of 2023

  • Meet Our Current Students - Class of 2023
    Emerald Kaitryn

    Emerald Kaitryn

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Emerald Kaitryn earned her BA in Psychology from Lewis and Clark College in May 2015, with a minor in Neuroscience. After graduating she began working as a medical scribe, first in the Emergency Department at Providence Portland Medical Center and then from 2016-2018 at ORM Fertility. Starting in 2018, she became a Genetic Counseling Assistant at UCSF’s Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program, collaborating with program leadership to develop an alternate service model, the “Genetic Testing Station” (GTS), meeting with 10-15 patients weekly at the GTS to discuss genetic testing/family history, and participating in weekly cancer genetics tumor boards. She has experience as a Research Assistant at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) - both in the Nigg Lab, investigating the neurodevelopment of ADHD by conducting cognitive functioning and emotional processing assessments in a longitudinal study of children and teens, as well as in the Unni Lab, where she contributed to a lab publication through work characterizing protein aggregation and Lewy Body formation in a novel transgenic mouse model for Parkinson’s disease. Later, as a Research Assistant at Portland Psychotherapy in 2017, she studied the connections between shame and substance use, developed a nonverbal shame coding system, and rated over 300 participant video interviews. From 2014-2017 she served as a Crisis Hotline Responder for Call to Safety, a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline, where she completed certified training in providing needs assessments, safety planning, emotional support, and resource navigation.

    Makenna Tiger

    Makenna Tiger

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Makenna Tiger earned her AB in French Language and Literature from Princeton University in June 2017 with certificates in Urban Studies and American Studies. As a Princeton senior with a strong interest in research, Makenna wrote an eighty-page thesis in English and translated it into French. In September 2019, she completed her 40-hour training and served as a Crisis of Mercer County, New Jersey, Hotline volunteer, answering suicide intervention phone calls and responding to lifeline crisis chat messages from both children and adults. She was also a volunteer facilitator at Good Grief in Princeton, New Jersey, where she led a weekly small group of young elementary school students in discussion about the death of a parent and/or sibling in a supportive environment. She completed a 36-hour training composed of workshops on active listening techniques, childrens’ understanding of death at different age levels, and the process of grief for adults and children; her training also included practice facilitation of support groups. Starting in August 2019, she shadowed a genetic counselor on a weekly basis in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit at the UPenn Medicine Princeton Medical Hospital. She observed about 65 counseling sessions, including consultations about advanced maternal age, neurofibromatosis, triploidies, molar pregnancies, Hunter syndrome, fibroids, and craniosynostosis.

    Julia Castro

    Julia Castro

    Pre-Doctoral IRTA Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Julia Castro earned her BS in Genetics and Genomics from the University of California, Davis in June 2020 with minors in Spanish and Psychology. Since 2019 she has served as a Laboratory Research Assistant in the UC Davis Ori-McKenney Lab, where she became particularly interested in neurogenetics after studying the effects of mutated microtubule-associated proteins on brain development in this lab. From 2018-19 she served as a Clinical Research Assistant in the 22q11.2 Research Center at the UC Davis Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute, supporting children with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome during EEGs and MRIs and organizing neuropsychological assessments of 100 patients. Her clinical shadowing experience at the UC Davis MIND Institute includes consulting with genetic counselors on how to address negative emotional patient reactions and observing patient visits involving genetic counselors/geneticists. She was a member of the UC Davis Genetic Counseling Club, which includes engaging in mock counseling sessions guided by a CGC. Starting in 2018 she served as a volunteer and student assistant for the UC Davis MIND Institute working with children with various developmental disorders in camps and during appointments. She has also served as a Crisis Line and Meeting Advocate at My Sister’s House in Sacramento, CA, where she developed a safety plan for callers in crisis and supported Spanish-speaking domestic violence victims.

    Sarah Roth

    Sarah Roth

    Pre-Doctoral IRTA Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Sarah Roth holds a BA in International and Area Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. She joined Johns Hopkins University as a Ph.D. student in Anthropology in August 2017 and advanced to doctoral candidacy in August 2020. In this capacity, she instructed courses in cultural and medical anthropology, completed field examinations in History of Medicine and Science & Technology Studies, and managed long-term ethnographic research on experiences of genetic diagnosis in the U.S. and Mexico. She presented on this preliminary work at the American Ethnological Society Annual Meeting in 2019. She is an active member of the Johns Hopkins Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine, which she joined as a graduate fellow in August 2018, and where she serves as a founding editor of Tendon, a literary and visual arts journal. Before arriving to Hopkins, Sarah worked at Genetic Alliance, a health advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., from 2015 to 2016. As a Program Coordinator for Genes in Life, she developed health history resources and coordinated a study of patient navigation programs for youth and families with complex care needs. She has served as a Peer Navigator and Volunteer for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) since December 2017, holding peer support calls with women navigating high-risk diagnoses or family histories of cancer. Sarah has shadowed geneticists as they consulted with patients on genetic risk at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología in Mexico City, care teams in the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine in Philadelphia, and Parent Navigators in the Complex Care Program at Children’s National Medical Center in D.C. 

    Jessica Sweeney

    Jessica Sweeney

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Jessica Sweeney earned her BA in Public Health Studies and a BA in Natural Sciences from Johns Hopkins University in December 2019 with a minor in Psychology. Her research interests/specialization areas include rare genetic diseases and prenatal counseling, connective tissue disorders and social determinants of health. Her research experience includes a publication entitled Bullying and Resilience in Adolescents with Marfan and Loeys-Dietz syndromes, presented at the virtual American College of Medical Genetics meeting in March 2020. Starting in 2019 she participated in a Baltimore County Family Crisis Hotline, which involves crisis counseling training, answering calls to provide support for trauma victims in crisis, advising callers on resources and providing a safe space for talking through issues.  Starting in 2016 she worked with the Thread organization to mentor and support at-risk Baltimore youth and plan community-building events for volunteers. She participated in a Casa de los Niños Internship in the Summer of 2018, a community center in San José, Costa Rica specializing in helping families affected by drug addiction. In 2019 she participated in a Johns Hopkins Hospital genetic counseling internship, observing counseling sessions for an 8-week rotation and working on data analysis regarding bullying, resilience and genetic connective tissue disorders. Jessica developed a passion for basketball in sixth grade, serving as Captain of the JHU Varsity basketball team. She is excited about the opportunity in genetic counseling to empower patients the same way she has been empowered through basketball, including working collaboratively as a team.

    Katelynd Faler

    Katelynd Faler

    Pre-doctoral IRTA Genetic Counseling Training Program

    Katelynd Faler earned her bachelor’s degrees in economics and geological sciences from Cleveland State University in 2011. Following her graduation, Katelynd worked as a uranium production geologist until 2014, and served as a senior economist for the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services from 2014 to 2020. As an economist, she carried out quantitative labor market research, and developed an education and outreach program to present complex workforce information to communities, businesses, and legislators. Some of Katelynd’s community involvement has included volunteering with Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions, serving on the Board of Directors for Mercer Family Resource Center, and tutoring English for Inglés! Family Language Learning. In her free time, Katelynd enjoys the collaborative performing arts, and has acted and directed professionally in theatre, film, television, radio, and opera.

Last updated: February 9, 2021