"If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?" - John Adams

WHAT IS GENETIC COUNSELING?


Genetic counselling is a specialized branch of medicine aimed at helping individuals, couples and families understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, familial and reproductive implications of the genetic contribution to specific health conditions.

The suspicion of a genetic disorder in a newborn, a family history of cancers, a positive result from a prenatal genetic screen for Down syndrome, a child diagnosed with Autism— these are a few examples of scenarios that confront patients with complex information to be understood and assimilated, and with an array of conflicting emotions. These - as well as other- scenarios oftentimes require difficult decision-making that involve many technical, ethical and highly personal questions. Genetic counseling plays an invaluable role in this process by offering specialized services within a clinical setting.

Genetic Counselors help individuals address the scientific and emotional issues that arise in such situations and actively help them make informed decisions based on their own values and individual circumstances.

WHAT DOES GENETIC COUNSELING INVOLVE?


RISK ASSESSMENT

Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence

EDUCATION

About the natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, testing, management, prevention, support resources and research

INFORMED CHOICES

Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values

SUPPORTIVE COUNSELING

Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the disorder in an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder

HOW TO PREPARE FOR GENETIC COUNSELING?


Genetic Counseling appointments are quite a bit different as compared to your typical doctor’s appointments. They typically last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, and are designed to be an opportunity to ask questions, raise any concerns/fears you may have, and learn more. You can get the most out of your genetic counseling appointment if you gather as much information as possible about your family history beforehand, if possible. Helpful information includes:

MEDICAL RECORDS

This includes doctors' notes and pathology reports. These are important in order to confirm a clinical diagnosis or rule out a suspected diagnosis. Your medical records are extremely helpful in guiding genetic assessment and/or testing.

FAMILY MEMBERS & THEIR HEALTH

This includes each person's current age or age at the time of diagnosis or death, and cause of death. This list should include blood relatives only (parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, and cousins) on both sides of your family.

MAJOR DISEASES IN FAMILY

Make a note of any cancers, heart disease, mental illness, known genetic conditions, birth defects, mental retardation, infant/sudden deaths, any miscarriages or fertility issues. Don’t forget to complete a health history questionnaire before your appointment.

Even though having family history details is very helpful, you should not avoid genetic counseling or be worried about having a useful appointment just because you do not know a lot about your family history. Our Genetic Counselors will consider as much information as available and help you understand your risks, available testing options, implications to your health as well as that of your family.

WHEN TO REFER TO GENETIC COUNSELING?


Appropriate for healthy individuals wanting to understand their genetic predisposition to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and other multifactorial conditions.

  • Family history usually includes older adults with Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, sporadic (one-off) cases of cancer, etc.
  • The purpose of Genomepatri Genetic Counseling is to help individuals understand what their DNA says about their chances of developing multifactorial conditions in the future
  • The aim of Genomepatri Genetic Counseling is to:
    • Provide education about symptoms of at-risk conditions for the purpose of being proactive through awareness
    • Put together a prevention-focused plan that includes diet and lifestyle-based strategies for risk reduction
    • Recommend standard of care tests for targeted monitoring in order to facilitate life-saving early intervention and timely treatment

MEET OUR GENETIC COUNSELORS!


Pooja Ramchandran
Director of Genetic Counseling

She has been practicing clinical genetic counseling in India since graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2008. She is a much sought after expert in a niche profession and, being the first genetic counselor in the country with a formal degree in genetic counseling, she is committed to establishing the genetic counseling profession in India.

Dr. Risha Nahar Lulla
Principal Genetic Counselor Board Certified (Senior)

Dr. Risha Nahar Lulla, M.Sc (Glasgow), PhD (Delhi), is reputed to be India’s First Board Certified (Senior level) Genetic Counselor with over 10 years of experience in the field of medical genetics. She is the Principal Genetic Counselor at Mapmygenome, Hyderabad (previously with KIMS hospitals, Hyderabad and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi).

Priya Joshi
Genetic Counselor

Priya has been working as a genetic counselor with Mapmygenome for over a year. After completing her post-graduation in Medical Biotechnology from Manipal University she worked at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata before joining our team at Mapmygenome. Priya is available for counselings over phone and Skype, and in person in Kolkata.

Dr. Arun H Shastry
Head of Medical Operations

Dr. Arun H Shastry, MBBS, PhD(NIMHANS), CGC is a clincian-scientist and and serves as the Head of Medical Operations. With a background of clinical knowledge, a vast experience in molecular genetics and genome analysis, Dr. Shastry drives the clinical utility for various genetic diagnostic tests.