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Genetic Counseling Students Garner Awards

November 30, 2021
GC students
Genetic Counseling students (l-r) Amin Zarkesh, Abigail Sveden, Gwen Muscato, and Pei- Chen (Emily) Hsieh.

Four students in the Genetic Counseling Class of 2022 received small grants from different groups within the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). Pei- Chen (Emily) Hsieh, Gwen Muscato, Abigail Sveden, and Amin Zarkesh were awarded a total of seven grants for their Capstone projects.

Pei- Chen (Emily) Hsieh, GC ’22
Project title: Understanding family communication about disease risk in Each Asian individuals with an inherited arrhythmia condition
Project description: The project aims to understand family communication patterns and factors that influence it for inherited arrhythmia conditions in East Asians, a population significantly underrepresented in health services research. Given the difference in cultural beliefs and norms, the Western nondirective model of genetic counseling may not be applicable, when empowering East Asian individuals to share genetic risk and screening recommendations with relatives
Project co-advisors: Allison Cirino, MS, CGC (IHP Faculty) and Eugene Wong, MS, CGC (MGH)
Grant awards: NSGC Cardiovascular SIG Grant Award, NSGC International SIG Grant Award, and NSGC Research SIG award

Gwen Muscato, GC ’22
Project title: Psychosocial outcomes and family communication after genetic testing for a childhood-onset hereditary cancer syndrome
Project description: The purpose of this study is to describe the experiences and psychosocial outcomes of adolescents and young adults who have undergone testing for a hereditary cancer syndrome and to explore unique outcomes of genotype-negative adolescents and young adults who have a family member with a hereditary cancer syndrome. Additionally, this study aims to evaluate how test results impact family dynamics and communication, particularly when siblings have discordant test results. Ultimately, the goal is to inform genetic counseling services for these patients and their families. The results of this exploratory study will inform future work, including a more extensive quantitative study on psychosocial outcomes for this unique population.
Project advisor: Kayla Hamilton, MS, CGC (DFCI)
Grant award: NSGC Pediatric and Clinical SIG Research Award

Abigail Sveden, GC ’22
Project title: Introduction of the genetic counseling profession by teachers in BIPOC-majority high schools
Project description: The primary objective of this project is to determine what factors impact the presentation of genetic counseling among high school teachers of racially and ethnically (RE) diverse student populations. For the purposes of this project, the term “presentation” is defined as providing information to students by means of a lecture, conversation, activity, assignment, guest speaker, or other teaching materials. In particular, this project aims to explore teachers’ interest, success, and limitations in presenting genetic counseling as a career option in relation to different factors, such as class levels, teacher and student RE identities, and personal experiences with genetic counselors. In addition, the project aims to illuminate teachers’ perspectives about presenting genetic counseling as a career option and how the genetic counselors can best support teachers to address the barriers they face in presenting genetic counseling. 
Project advisor: Nadine Channaoui, MS, CGC (IHP GC Faculty)
Grants awarded: Jane Engleberg Memorial Fellowship Student Research Award and NSGC Education Special Interest Group (SIG) Grant Award

Amin Zarkesh, GC ’22
Project title: Identifying views and perspectives towards genetic counseling among Iranians in the United States
Project description: The central aim of this project is to perform exploratory qualitative research using semi-structured interviews to identify current perspectives and beliefs about genetics in healthcare among the Iranian community in the U.S. To our knowledge, this is the first study which will explore genetics healthcare issues in the context of the Iranian community in the U.S. Therefore, this study is important to creating a culturally informed framework to provide healthcare for members of this community.
Project advisor: Maureen Flynn, MS, CGC (IHP Faculty) 
Grant awarded: NSGC Awards Committee Student Research Scholarship