98-99 University Bulletin Entry for:

Genetic Counseling

(file last updated: [8/10/1998 - 15:23:36])


Graduate Program in GeneticCounseling

The Master's Degree Programin Genetic Counseling is a two-year course of study integratingcourse work with clinical experience in an environment that encouragesclose student/faculty interaction. The program places a strongemphasis on human molecular genetics while providing in-depthcoursework in counseling theory and technique as well as extensiveclinical training. Graduates of the program are expected to havea clear understanding of human and medical genetics, recombinantDNA technology, gene mapping, and developmental biology; a familiaritywith many genetic diseases and birth defects and the various techniquesused to detect and/or treat them; an understanding of how geneticcounselors function in a variety of work settings and their rolesand responsibilities within a medical team; the ability to presentrelevant genetic information to individuals and families fromdiverse cultural backgrounds in an informed, compassionate mannerand to help families obtain the medical and social services theymay need; a sensitivity to the needs and options of children andadults (including parents and potential parents) with mental retardation,developmental disabilities, and other genetic disorders; an awarenessof the legal, ethical, and public policy issues raised as a resultof new DNA and reproductive technologies and the Human GenomeProject; an understanding of research methodology, experiencein the design and execution of research projects, and in the preparationof completed projects for professional publication and presentation;and finally a familiarity with the relevant scientific literatureand computer-based tools.

The program is accredited bythe American Board of Genetic Counseling and prepares graduatesfor the certification examination in genetic counseling and employmentas genetic counselors.

How to Be Admitted tothe Graduate Program

The general requirements foradmission to the Graduate School, given in an earlier sectionof this Bulletin, apply to candidates for admission tothis area of study. The specific requirements for admission tothis program are: one year of general chemistry, one year of biology,and one semester each of genetics (course should include Mendelianand molecular genetics), organic chemistry, biochemistry, psychology,and statistics. Applicants lacking one or more of these coursesare invited to consult the program's director on how to fulfillthese requirements. Volunteer or work experience in an area relatedto counseling, developmental disabilities, or genetics is recommended.

Applications should includethree letters of reference, the results of the General GraduateRecord Examination, and a personal statement describing your interestin the field of genetic counseling. After initial review of applications,potential candidates will be invited to Brandeis for a personalinterview.

Partial scholarship assistanceis available for a limited number of exceptional applicants.

Faculty Advisory Committee

Judith Tsipis, Chair andGraduate Advising Head


Joseph Cunningham


James Haber


Annette Lovelace Kennedy


Kathryn Spitzer Kim


Attila Klein


Marty Wyngaarden Krauss

(Heller School)

Barbara Lerner


Marvin Natowicz


Lyman Stookey

(Legal Studies)

Lawrence Wangh


Kalpana White


Requirements for the Degreeof Master of Science

Program of Study

The academic component of thecurriculum consists of the following: graduate-level courses inmolecular biology, human genetics, medical genetics, human reproductivebiology, counseling skills, research methodology, and biomedicallaw and ethics; two seminars in genetic counseling; and two tofour electives chosen from the biological sciences, medical sociology,psychology, and health policy. Student participation in a proseminarand journal club are required as well.

Fieldwork and clinical internshipsare an important, integral part of the program. First-year studentscarry out a clinical genetics laboratory rotation during one semesterand a community-based rotation during the other semester. Startingin the summer following the first year and continuing throughthe second year, students participate in three intensive clinicalinternships at prenatal, pediatric, general, or specialty geneticsclinics. Satisfactory completion of the three clinical internshipsis required for graduation from the program.

Residence Requirement

The residence requirement forthis program is two years of full-time study.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign languagerequirement for the master's degree.


A master's project is required.Students may work with a genetic counselor to design and evaluatean innovative educational tool or counseling strategy relevantto their clinical work, or should their interest lean toward basicresearch, they may pursue either a laboratory-based project, ora qualitative or quantitative study in the field.

Courses of Instruction

(100-199) For Both Undergraduateand Graduate Students

BIOL 128a Human Genetics

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Prerequisites: BIBC 22aand BIOL 22b. Enrollment limited to 50.

Survey of classical and non-classicalpatterns of inheritance; cytogenetics; applications of moleculargenetics techniques in human genetics, analysis of variation,gene mapping, identification of candidate genes and genetic diseasediagnoses; single gene vs. complex gene inheritance; issues inhuman population genetics; and hands-on use of computer toolsin human genetics. Usually offered every year.


BIOL 160b Human ReproductiveBiology

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Prerequisites: BIBC 22aand BIOL 22b. Signature of the instructor required.

This course deals with hormonal,cellular, and molecular aspects of gametogenesis, fertilization,pregnancy, and birth. We will also discuss pathological and abnormalvariations that occur and the available medical technologies forintervention, correction, and facilitation of these processes.Usually offered every year.

Mr. Hayes

(200 and above) Primarilyfor Graduate Students

BIOL 202a Introduction toGenetic Counseling

Provides the historical andtheoretical foundations for the practice of genetic counselingand the role of genetic services within the healthcare deliverysystem. Introduces students to some of the practical aspects ofgenetic counseling, including case preparation, pedigree construction/interpretation,and medical documentation. Usually offered every year.

Ms. Kim

BIOL 203a Proseminar inGenetic Counseling

Introduction to the scientificliterature in the fields of human genetics and genetic counseling.Students will gain experience in reading papers and presentingthem to the class for discussion. Usually offered every year.

Ms. Tsipis

BIOL 204b Introduction toClinical Genetics

Introduction to basic conceptsof biochemical genetics, cytogenetics, and clinical moleculargenetics. Makes use of clinical cases ranging from single genedisorders to multifactorially determined conditions and includesproblems in dysmorphology, inborn errors of metabolism, and cancergenetics. A problem-solving approach is emphasized. Usually offeredevery year.

Mr. Natowicz

BIOL 205b Counseling Theoryand Technique

A comprehensive overview ofcounseling theory and practice. Includes such topics as listening,observation, and interview skills and strategies; family dynamicsand development; coping and adaptation processes; referral andconsultation procedures; and ethical principles. Students areprovided an opportunity to integrate clinical experiences withthe coverage of topics. Usually offered every year.

Ms. Kennedy

BIOL 206d Genetic CounselingJournal Club


Informal biweekly meeting ofstudents and faculty at which recent papers are discussed. Usuallyoffered every year.


BIOL 207a Genetic Counseling:Case Conferences and Family Counseling

Taught by a team of healthcare professionals. Case studies provide the basis for discussionof a variety of genetic disorders and the application of counselingmodalities. Students have an opportunity to share experiencesgained during clinical internships. Discussions emphasize theinterplay of medical, psychological, ethical, legal, social, andcultural factors in genetic counseling. Usually offered everyyear.

Ms. Kim and Ms. Kennedy

BIOL 211d Genetic CounselingFieldwork Placement

Students work eight to 10 hoursper week in a clinical genetics laboratory, a community-basedhealth service organization, or a public health agency. Usuallyoffered every year.

Ms. Lerner

BIOL 212a Genetic CounselingInternship I

Starting in the summer andcontinuing through the fall semester, students work two days aweek under the supervision of a genetic counselor or clinicalgeneticist in a prenatal, pediatric, general, or specialty geneticsclinic. Usually offered every year.


BIOL 212e Genetic CounselingInternship II

Students work two days a weekunder the supervision of a genetic counselor or clinical geneticistin a prenatal, pediatric, general, or specialty genetics clinicand meet once a week to discuss cases and develop counseling protocolsfor some common genetic disorders. Usually offered every year.


BIOL 213d Genetic CounselingResearch Project

Students are introduced tothe basic techniques of social science research and their groundingprinciples in a series of seminars. In consultation with the program'sresearch coordinator, each student designs and carries out a projectunder the supervision of a research committee. Usually offeredevery year.

Ms. Lerner

BIOL 214c Genetic CounselingProcess Group

In this small group setting,students can share and learn from their collective experiencesin their field placements, courses, and individual lives and havethe opportunity to process and integrate the experience of becominga genetic counselor. Usually offered every semester.

Mr. Cunningham

BIOL 215b Readings in MolecularBiology

A combination of readings andclinical laboratory work to provide students with an in-depthunderstanding of the molecular biology of several human geneticdiseases and the techniques used for their diagnosis. Usuallyoffered every year.

Ms. Tsipis

BIOL 220a Clinical GeneticsII

Prerequisites: Completionof BIOL 204b or permission of the instructor.

An in-depth discussion of organsystem genetics. Topics include genetic disorders of the CNS,the skeleton, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, thekidneys, and the urogenital system. Usually offered every year.

Mr. Natowicz

BIOL 236b Genetics, Law,and Social Policy

Explores advances in humangenetics, the clinical and economic benefits promised by new tests,problems generated by our new ability to manipulate our biologicalfuture. We analyze the role of government in regulating technologicaldevelopment and the legal doctrines of privacy, informed consent,and professional liability. Usually offered in even years.

Mr. Reilly

Cross-Listed Courses

BIBC 105b

Molecular Biology