Assumption biology student research in genetic diseases paving the way for a career in genetic counseling
One rising senior at Assumption plans to spend her fall semester this year performing research on a team and working in an area that she is passionate about — genetics.
Kaitlyn Riley is a biology major with a concentration in neuroscience. Along with pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Assumption, she is interning at UMASS Medical School in Worcester, MA, studying genetics and genetic diseases. Their goal: to find a way to override genetic diseases, which could lead to a future cure.
Kaitlyn took the bachelor’s in biology course Bio 210 – Genetics, and it helped her decide that she wanted to pursue a career in genetic counseling.
“With a course specifically designed just for genetics — we only learn genetics — I learned so much more than just one section in a biology course being about genetics,” Kaitlyn said.
According to the National Society of Genetic counselors, “Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease.”
This process includes ‘interpreting family and medical history to assess the chance of disease occurrence and recurrence, counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition, and educating about inheritance, testing, prevention and more.’
Kaitlyn was also inspired by her adviser, Dr. Krause, who is a practicing genetic counselor.
“I can just go to her anytime and talk to her,” Kaitlyn said, “She has helped me find great grad schools I can apply to, and she is going to write me a recommendation letter.”
To become a genetic counselor, Kaitlyn will attend graduate school and be on her way to fulfilling her dream of helping people with genetic diseases.
“I want to give them hope”, she said, “to help them understand that it’s not all bad. That there is a future for them.”