Genetic counselors are specially trained professionals who help people cope with and understand genetic conditions. They serve as an information bridge — educating physicians, researchers, patients, and prospective parents about the role of genetics in inherited diseases. They are responsible for translating test results to people from diverse backgrounds, using scientific acumen and empathy to help people make informed decisions about their health.
Patients with certain genetic conditions and their families may face many daunting challenges when trying to uncover the underlying causes of their diseases. Sometimes, the search for genetic culprits is emotionally draining and fraught with clues that lead nowhere. Genetic counselors are on the frontline, standing alongside patients and their families as they try to make very difficult treatment decisions. They serve as translators, interpreting complicated medical information at critical moments in an understandable way.
Genome magazine and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) present the Code Talker Award — an essay contest for patients and their families to pay tribute to a genetic counselor by nominating him or her for an award to be presented at NSGC’s annual education conference.
Essay nominations from patients, caregivers, and peers will detail the compassion, expertise, and helpfulness a genetic counselor had for a patient or his or her family.
After culling through hundreds of essays, Genome’s editorial team will choose three finalists. Finalists, the essayists, plus one guest each, will receive round-trip airfare and a two-night stay in Columbus, Ohio, where they will be honored at a reception on September 15 during the NSGC conference. The essays will be read aloud, and one genetic counselor will be awarded a special prize in recognition of his or her service to patients.
At the end of the program, each attendee will receive a book filled with up to 40 heart felt essays and beautiful photography. This book will educate its reader by providing insights into what patients and their families value most in genetic counselors. Extra copies of the book will be provided for distribution to genetic counselors that were unable to attend the event. The book will serve as an enduring testament to the important role genetic counselors play in the quality of people’s lives.
The title of this award was inspired by the American Indian code talkers who served during World Wars I and II. These brave individuals communicated vital and often life-saving messages in their native languages, or special codes based on those languages, to the battle lines. Similarly, genetic counselors serve on the front lines of genomic medicine, delivering complex — and also potentially life-saving — information to patients and their families. They are experts in conveying the intricate and often nuanced results of genetic testing. Their skills profoundly impact pivotal healthcare decisions. With the Code Talker Award, we honor the award’s namesakes, as well as all genetic counselors who communicate with compassion and care.
In 2016, we asked our readers to submit essays nominating their genetic counselors for the first ever Code Talker Award. The essays we received made us laugh, cry, think, and certainly appreciate the hard work and commitment each nominated counselor put toward their patients. Identifying the top three was incredibly difficult, but the following genetic counselors stood out.
Click on the name of the winner and each finalist below to read the amazing essay nominating them for the Code Talker Award.
Allison graduated from the genetic counseling program at Northwestern University and received ABGC certification in 2014. She is currently a genetic counselor at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and a clinical instructor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Allison is also involved with the efforts of the Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University to develop innovative provider and patient educational materials for complex medical conditions known to impair fertility. Additionally, she is an active member of the NSGC and serves on the marketing committee for the Genetic Task Force of Illinois.Read Allison's Essay
Amie is the director of the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Endowed Counselor of Hereditary GI Cancer Prevention. Amie earned her genetic counseling degree at UT Health where she completed an NCI fellowship in Cancer Prevention Education. Amie has written and been interviewed about hereditary cancer syndromes for numerous publications, including a chapter in “Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy.” She produced a video about genetic testing for Li-Fraumeni syndrome, co-authored close to 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, and mentored a generation of genetic counseling students.Read Amie's Essay
Anna is a board certified genetic counselor at Provenance Healthcare in Las Vegas, Nevada. Anna is taking great strides to increase the availability of genetic counseling and testing services within the Las Vegas community and currently specializes in cancer genetics and personalized medicine. Previously, she worked as a prenatal genetic counselor. Anna received her bachelor’s degree in biology at Indiana University and her master’s degree in medical and molecular genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine.Read Anna's Essay
Genome magazine wants you to share your story! We are now accepting essays for the 2017 Code Talker Award. Essays must be submitted by the deadline of May 1 to be considered for the 2017 contest.
Tell us how your genetic counselor impacted your healthcare decision — or those of a loved one — and your genetic counselor might just win our Code Talker Award!
The genetic counselors who are named as finalists, the essayists who nominated them, plus one guest each, will receive round-trip airfare and a two-night stay in Columbus, Ohio, where they will be honored at a reception on September 15 during the NSGC’s Annual Education Conference. One of the three finalists will receive the 2017 Code Talker Award.
Essay submissions should be made by one person nominating one genetic counselor. A current or former patient, a caregiver, or a peer can make nominations, but essays should focus on a special connection between a genetic counselor and a patient.
Genome's editorial team collected the 25 best essays we received in our 2016 contest and have assembled a book that provides insights into how patients and their families have been touched by their genetic counselors. Each essay highlights a different genetic counselor and the amazing contribution he or she made in a patient's life on a daily basis.
Request your copy TODAY by clicking the button below.Request a Copy