Community Genetics

Ferre Institute believes that community genetics will bring the advances and promise of genetics and genomics to every New York State resident. Community genetics is a philosophy and model for the practice of counseling services, professional education and public information about genetics and genomics. It is a community based and community supported model and philosophy that Ferre already practices.

The central tenet that distinguishes community genetics from medical center or laboratory programs is access to services by patients, their families and medical providers; access to services where the patient lives; access to services where the patient seeks health care; access to services that reflect the social values and ethics of the patient, family and community, and access to services that are affordable. Community genetics integrates research and science, particularly that of the human genome project, into primary health care and thereby brings the research to individuals and their families in the communities where they live and work. In addition, community genetics gives access to science through existing health care systems where individuals seek care. And, at Ferre, the genetic counseling program gives patients access to services regardless of their ability to pay.

In addition, Community Genetics works not only with patients but with their families. Ferre's genetic counselors help patients, their families and medical providers understand the very complicated science of genetics as it applies to them and their decisions. Patients need information and guidance.

Family members also need information both about their own health and about the patient whom they love, support and want to help. Genetic information often challenges family dynamics and relationships. Ferre's genetic counselors help work through these challenges. Add medical providers to the team and information-sharing and decision-making is seamless.

Over the past five years Ferre Institute has reached out to engage stakeholders in an on-going discussion about genetics and genomics to identify the opportunities and challenges that genetics and genomics bring to public policy, professional practice and individual decisions. This initiative led to the first statewide professional education meeting of genetics counselors in 15 years; a new professional organization, Upstate Genetic Counselors, which is now active in an effort to enact state legislation to license genetic counselors; and a soon-to-be-announced statewide organization of genetic counselors. For this effort, Ferre's Luba Djurdjinovic has received national awards for her leadership on behalf of community genetics, genetic counseling and advocacy.

Ferre Institute also provides professional training and education for health care professionals, particularly for primary care providers. Primary health care providers are, and will increasingly be, the professionals who introduce patients to genetics and its influence on their health. But, these professionals, including recent graduates and diplomats, are not taught genetics. Ferre's genetic counselors train primary care physicians, medical residents at major medical centers in Upstate New York, family planning clinicians and other health care professionals about genetics in primary care. In addition, Ferre's genetic counselors write articles in professional journals and speak at programs for genetic counselors and public health professionals.

Learn more about Genetic Counseling and services available in New York State.

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Last Modified: February 1, 2010