Lab genetics counselors play critical behind-the-scenes role

Photo of Michelle Moore, a Laboratory Genetic Counselor, at Sanford Health.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The laboratory inside the Sanford Imagenetics building may look like the location of scientific research, but more and more, laboratories like this one are playing a role in your health. Genetic counseling has been around since the 1970s, but in the past decade, lab genetic counseling has taken off.

“I didn’t want to go to medical school and I found genetic counseling was a perfect balance of all the science but the ability to be a liaison, to talk and interact with people,” said Michelle Moore, a senior laboratory genetic counselor for Sanford Health. “That’s what I really love.”

Moore has worked around the U.S. and England as a genetic counselor since the 1990s. She said the idea behind Sanford Imagenetics is innovative, bringing genetics into primary medicine.

“The concept of genetic testing is sort of high end for a lot of people. But really, it impacts everybody on a day-to-day basis. I wanted to be able to communicate the importance of that to individuals,” Moore said.

Moore adds that the growing field of lab genetic counselors is about even in numbers now to counselors in clinics. This type of behind the scenes work can be critical.

“I’m the person who helps communicate between the physicians and the patient or between physicians and physicians or with other genetic counselors to help them understand what the testing options mean for a patient,” Moore said.

Lab tests may find whether a patient’s genetics allow them to get the full benefits of certain medications or if doses need adjustment. It can also empower patients.

“Information is definitely power,” Moore said. “If you know what you are predisposed for, that might be just the motivation to change your diet, to get more exercise, to do more stuff like that, so that this condition may not ever impact you.”

Which is why a laboratory may someday change your life.

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Posted In Genetics, Health Information, News Releases, Research

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