Category Archives: Uncategorized

What is a “cancer gene” infographic.

I decided to make this infographic to explain what a cancer gene really means. I’d love any thoughts/feedback/suggestions. Enjoy!


CRISPR Cartoon

This is a comic I drew by hand for Laura Hercher’s amazing NSGC 2015 Plenary Talk on CRISPR with Carl Zimmer. She wrote it, and I illustrated it.


Common Misconceptions


Anyone who ever brings up the subject of genetic counseling will almost always have to deal with misconceptions. Some of these misconceptions may seem silly and ridiculous, but it’s important to clarify the truth so that people are well aware of the services available to them.

(Maio et al 2013) Awareness of Genetic Counseling and Perceptions of its Purpose: A Survey of the Canadian Public

Types of Genetic Counselors


More details on each type to come.

To find a genetic counselor near you, click here.

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Why go to a genetic counselor?

denadna4Some common reasons to visit a genetic counselor.


You may see this title every so often, but do you really know what a genetic counselor does?

No worries, I am here to explain.


A genetic counselor:

  • Is a member of a healthcare team
  • Assesses your risk for a health problem that runs in your family
  • Teaches you about your genetics
  • Provides information and emotional support
  • Helps you decide if genetic testing is an option and guides you through the possibilities
    • (if you choose to undergo testing, your counselor will meet with you to interpret the results and discuss options for further testing or preventative measure)
  • Explains possible treatment options or management strategies
  • Connects you to support groups and resources
  • Teaches you about surveillance, prevention strategies, and research trials related to your individual situation

Genetic counseling can be extremely helpful in alleviating your anxiety and confusion about hereditary disease. Genetic science is a complex and rapidly advancing field, but a genetic counselor has the expertise and experience to help you navigate it.

Next Post: Explaining Prenatal, Pediatric, Adult-Onset, Cancer, and other types of genetic counseling areas

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Golden Rules for understanding Genetics

Golden Rules for understanding Genetics

A few key things to keep in mind whenever you are discussing or researching anything genetics related:

  • As much as scientists, doctors, and other medical professionals know, there is a lot more we don’t know.
  • New discoveries in genetics are taking place everyday.
    What is known today could change a week from now.
  • Just because we can find mutations does not mean we know their significance.
    With today’s developing technologies, we can find small changes in the genome we were never able to see before. The problem is, we don’t know what many of them mean. These genetic changes could be completely neutral and have no effect; or they could be the reason behind a medical problem. A lot of research needs to be done on many of these findings before we can make any type of diagnosis.
  •  A family history is sometimes more important then a genetic test in determining risks for a disease.
    A family history, or pedigree, is an integral part of the genetic counseling process, and very useful in risk determination. There are factors you may be asked about that do not seem necessary such as ethnic background, relatedness of your families, miscarriages, or other birth defects in any family members; however, these are very important for us to know.
  • Not all doctors are familiar with genetics or know how to order or interpret genetic tests.
    Most physicians were not trained in genetic testing and they do not know what to do when genetic test results come back. A good physician will refer a patient to a Genetics Clinic if her or she thinks there is a genetic basis behind an illness or disorder. It is important to understand that bringing genetic results to any doctor will not ensure that you will be provided with the correct information or proper counseling.

As more points come up, I will be adding them to this list. But for now, let me know if you have any questions. 😀

Some Introductions

A Bit About Me and this Blog

A Bit About Me and this Blog

Hi, my name is Dena DNA, and I am a genetic counselor-in-training with experience in the field of genetics. I have worked with and studied multiple aspects of genetics everywhere from Molecular Anthropology all the way to Cancer Cell Biology.

But why am I different?

Well, I speak “real people language”, or what the science community calls “layperson language”.

So here’s the deal:

When people learn that I research/work/study in the field of genetics, I’m usually faced with a barrage of questions. The same questions come up time and time again and I have come to realize that while there is great interest in this topic, there is not much information available to people outside of the medical/scientific community. I’ve decided to use this blog to answer questions and provide information for people who are interested in this field of science.

Please feel free to ask me questions as I think of topics to discuss based off of the conversations I am part of or witness in my time away from the science community.

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