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Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences

MS/MA in Genetic Counseling & Bioethics

MS/MA in Genetic Counseling & Bioethics

The Departments of Genetics & Genome Sciences and Bioethics offer a dual degree program between the Masters in Genetic Counseling and the Masters in Bioethics Programs. The dual degree program provides a comprehensive curriculum integrating foundational principles of genetics and ethics. The goal of the program is to train Genetic Counselors who wish to apply additional Bioethics expertise into their clinical practice and/or research.

The dual degree program allows graduates to engage in both contemplative analysis and application of knowledge in the counseling of patients and should allow graduates to be more prepared to participate in the ongoing national dialogue about the ethical, legal, and social implications of advances in genomic technology as well as research within their home institutions and with other counselors nationwide regarding issues of new genomic testing technology, concerns about genetic services, and issues related to genetic discrimination, privacy, and the return of genetic and genomic results.

The curriculum for the Dual Genetic Counseling/Bioethics Degree consists of 62 credit hours to be completed in 2.5 years. Students enrolled in the dual degree program will spend their first year taking courses entirely within the Genetic Counseling Program and then will spread out their Bioethics coursework over the next 1.5 years while continuing with required coursework and clinical rotations in the genetic counseling program.

In addition to both a written and oral comprehensive examination as part of the Genetic Counseling Training Program, the dual degree requires a research project be carried out for the completion of the both degrees. For the dual degree, students will be required to choose a research project that includes ethical, legal, or social issues of genetic counseling practice, clinical genetics or genomics, or genetic research. Students will also be required to include at least one Bioethics Faculty member on their Research Project Committee.

Students who would like to enroll in the dual degree program will apply and be admitted into each program separately. While admissions committees for each program will communicate with each other regarding applicants, each admissions committee will decide independently about the suitability of the applicant to their program.

Once students have been admitted, the Director of the Genetic Counseling Training Program and the Director of the MA Program in Bioethics will act as student advisors for each of the two programs individually as well as collaboratively - meeting monthly to assess student progress, address any student or faculty concerns, and assure that student progress in each of the programs, and their overlapping components, are being achieved.

Course Information

First YearUnits
Advanced Medical Genetics: Molecular & Cytogenetics (GENE 524)2
Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics & Genomics (GENE 526)2
Principles and Practices of Genetic Counseling (GENE 528)3
Direct Practice Generalist Methods & Skills (SASS 477)3
Psychosocial Issues in Genetic Counseling (GENE 529)3
Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics (GENE 525)2
Cancer Genetics (GENE 531)2
Research in Genetics (GENE 601)2
Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532)3
Year Total:1093
Second YearUnits
Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532)4
Advanced Medical Genetics: Biochemical Genetics (GENE 527)2
Foundations in Bioethics I (BETH 401)6
Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532)4
Ethical Issues in Genetics/Genomics (BETH 412)3
Foundation in Bioethics II (BETH 402)6
Bioethics Capstone (BETH 604)1.5
Research in Genetics (GENE 601)3
Year Total:1214.53
Third YearUnits
Research in Genetics (GENE 601)3
Clinical Ethics Rotation (BETH 405)3
BETH Elective3
Bioethics Mini Elective (BETH 603)1.5
Year Total:10.5
Total Units in Sequence62
Course NumberCourse DescriptionsCredits
GENE 524Advanced Medical Genetics : Molecular and Cytogenetics An in-depth forum for discussion of fundamental principles regarding clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics and their relevance to medical genetics, genomics and genetic counseling. Following a historical overview, topics include a discussion of numerical and structural aberrations, sex chromosome abnormalities, issues regarding population cytogenetics, clinical relevance of such findings as marker chromosomes, mosaicism, contiguous gene deletions and uniparental disomy. The course will cover principles of molecular genetics including structure, function and regulations of genes (DNA, RNA, proteins), genetic variation, inheritance patterns and both cytogenetic and molecular laboratory techniques (fluorescence in situ hybridization, micro-array, SNP analyses, sequencing) in the clinical laboratory.2.0
GENE 525Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics Fundamental principles regarding congenital malformations, dysmorphology and syndromes. Discussion of a number of genetic disorders from a systems approach: CNS malformations, neurodegenerative disorders, craniofacial disorders, connective tissue disorders, skeletal dysplasias, hereditary deafness, cardiovascular genetics, etc. Discussions include diagnosis, etiology, genetics, prognosis and management.2.0
GENE 526Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics and Genomics This course provides a foundation in quantitative genetics as well as genomic approaches and technologies which have greatly expanded our understanding of not only rare genetic disorders but common ones as well. Concepts related to risk assessment and calculation and its application to medical genetics including principles and application of Hardy Weinberg equilibrium and applying Bayes' Theorem as a mechanism to refine risk assessment based on patient specific data are covered. The clinical implications of interpreting next generation sequencing results, identifying limitations of genomic technologies, and practicing annotation and interpretation of genomic testing results are also covered. In addition, resources and bioinformatics tools including national databases and clinical labs to aid in the interpretation of genomic test results including variants of uncertain significance are discussed.2.0
GENE 527Advanced Medical Genetics: Metabolic Disorders Fundamental principles of metabolic testing; amino acid disorders; organic acid disorders; carbohydrate disorders; peroxisomal disorders; mitochondrial disorders; etc. Discussion of screening principles and newborn screening as well as therapy for metabolic diseases.2.0
GENE 528Principles and Practices of Genetic Counseling Fundamental principles needed for the practicing genetic counselor. Topics include skills in obtaining histories (prenatal, perinatal, medical, developmental, psychosocial and family); pedigree construction and analysis, physical growth and development; the genetic evaluation; the physical examination and laboratory analyses; prenatal issues, prenatal screening and diagnosis; and teratogenicity.3.0
GENE 529Psychosocial Aspects of Genetic Counseling Fundamental principles regarding the psychosocial aspect of birth defects and genetic disease, its psychological and social impact on the individual and family. Topics include the genetic counseling interview process, issues regarding pregnancy, chronicity, death and loss, as well as the impact of cultural issues. Resources for families are also explored. Basic interviewing skills are addressed. Students will have an opportunity for practice of skills through role play and actual interviewing situations.3.0
GENE 531Clinical Cancer Genetics This seminar discusses basic concepts in cancer epidemiology, principles of cancer genetics, inherited cancer syndromes, cytogenetics of cancers, pedigree analysis for familial cancer risk and approaches to the differential diagnosis of inherited and familial cancers. Additionally, topics of risk assessment, genetic testing, screening, management and psychosocial issues in providing genetic counseling to patients with familial and inherited cancers will be discussed.2.0
GENE 532Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling This clinical practicum provides the student an opportunity to function as a genetic counselor by preparing for cases; obtaining appropriate histories; determining risks; performing psychosocial assessments; discussing disease characteristics, inheritance, and natural history; providing anticipatory guidance and supportive counseling; using medical and community resources; and follow-up. Students rotate through four clinical areas and one laboratory and will register for a total of 12 hours over the course of the program. Recommended preparation: Admission to Genetic Counseling Training Program.1.0-6.0
GENE 601Genetic Counseling Research Seminar This required research seminar is a continuation of the fall research seminar. The major focus of the spring semester will be to provide guidance regarding the development of a research proposal. Discussion continues regarding quantitative, qualitative and mixed research approaches except now in the context of specific research projects. Students will identify their specific research question and specific aims, discuss issues regarding review of the literature, develop the appropriate research design (study population, data collection, data analysis) to answer the research question, discuss the required format of the proposal, human subjects' protection (IRBs) issues and the proposal defense. The end product of the seminar will be a written research project proposal.1.0-9.0
BETH 401Foundations in Bioethics The first of the two required seminar courses, this course covers five basic topic areas in bioethics: death and dying; health professional-patient relationship; method and theory in bioethics; organ transplantation; and ethics and children. The course meets twice weekly and is taught in seminar format by Center faculty members who are experts on specific topics. Preentry.6.0
BETH 402Foundations in Bioethics II This course completes the required seminar core and covers the basic bioethics topic areas: health care justice; defining 'health care needs;' reproduction and fertility ethics; research ethics; and ethics in genetics. The course meets twice weekly and is taught in seminar format by Center faculty members who are experts on specific topics. Recommended preparation: BETH 401.6.0
BETH 405Clinical Ethics Rotation In this course students will become familiar with the clinical, psychological, social, professional, and institutional context in which ethical problems arise. This course exposes students to clinical cases, to hospital ethics committees and ethics consultation programs, to institutional review boards (IRB), and to hospital policies covering the "do not resuscitate" orders (DNR), advance directives, withdrawal of artificial feeding, organ procurement and transplantation, and medical futility. Requires minimum of 8 total hours of rotation experience per week during two semester 10-week rotations. Locations for this course include: MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals of Cleveland, and the Hospice of the Western Reserve. Recommended preparation: BETH 401 or concurrent enrollment.1.5-3.0
BETH 412Ethical Issues in Genetics and Genomics This course is designed to familiarize graduate students with the major controversies regarding the generation and use of new human genetic information. Topics will include the growth of susceptibility and predictive genetic testing, prenatal diagnosis, genetic discrimination, human genetic variation research, eugenics, genetic counseling, and the limits of human gene therapy. The course will be conducted as a seminar, involving discussions of readings, guest speakers, and student presentations.3.0
BETH Elective3.0
BETH 603Bioethics Mini Elective1.5
BETH 604Bioethics Capstone1.5
SASS 477Direct Practice Foundation: Methods & Skills The course introduces major social work theories (i.e., systems-based, cognitive-behavioral, and relationship-based intervention approaches utilized in social work [and genetic counseling] practice with individuals and families. The course is structured to include lecture, discussion and experiential laboratory learning. Interviewing skills for beginning practitioners relevant to work with individuals and families will be a major focus of work both in lectures and during the skills lab incorporating engagement, assessment, goal-setting/treatment planning, intervention and evaluation, termination and follow-up.3.0
Last update on: 28th November 2018