Genomenon announced today the launch of its Genomics Educator Program and named the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) as its first academic partner for this effort which provides graduate level students with access to its flagship product the Mastermind Genomic Search Engine.
As the first academic partner, KGI can now provide access to students in its new two-year Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling (MSGC) to the professional version of Mastermind through their entire program.
“KGI is interested in revolutionizing education, and is the first of its kind to educate students for evolving roles in clinical genomics and genetic counseling,” said Barbara Fortini, assistant professor of genetics in KGI’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and coordinator for the new Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genomic Data Analytics (MSGDA) program in a press release announcing the partnership.
According to Candace Chapman, director of marketing for Genomenon, the relationship with KGI was built off a conversation struck up between Fortini and Genomenon executives in 2017 at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)Annual Conference. “Barbara has shared great feedback as a Mastermind user since then, and she was the first person we reached out to for the Genomic Educator’s Program,” Chapman told Clinical OMICs in an exclusive interview. “It’s safe to say that Barbara and the Keck program was a major inspiration.”
The program rolled out by Genomenon is geared toward graduate-level programs that are training geneticists and genetic counselors and as more programs like KGI’s are created to help address a shortage of certified genetic counselors in the U.S.
According to research from ASHG, in the U.S. in 2017 there were just more than 4,200 certified genetic counselors amid an increasing demand, as more and more genetics diagnostics and screening tests become available. In 2015, industry groups including ASHG, American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC), the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD), and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) formed a working group to study and potentially encourage workforce development in the field.
The Genetic Counselor Workforce Working Group determined that based on current demand and current training programs supply of genetic counselors is not expected to meet the demand until 2024. This, too, was a driving factor in the development of Genomenon’s educator program.
“We focus on graduate level because they can make an impact on the industry quickly,” Chapman said. “We want to do anything we can to equip that essential workforce, which is critical to the success of precision medicine.”
At KGI, Fortini is already using Mastermind as a teaching tool in her Human Genomics course. “This will give our students familiarity with reading primary medical literature and how to use professional genomic search tools. Mastermind automatically organizes scientific research by the genetic evidence in each article. It helps the geneticist get a comprehensive view of all the medical knowledge tied to a patient’s DNA very quickly,” Fortini said.
In addition, Genomenon also provides KGI and its students with Mastermind Variant Interpretation Cards—built around the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) variant interpretation framework. The flash cards help guide clinicians to use the ACMG framework and will help train students on how to determine if a genetic disease variant is benign, or pathogenic.
The agreement with KGI is open-ended, with plans to provide the Mastermind seat licenses to future classes enrolled in the MSGC and MSGDA programs. Genomenon is also making the program available to other graduate level programs in human genetics and genetic counseling.