Genetic Counseling Students Earn Research Awards, Fellowships

January 25, 2018 Jen Retter

In the fall semester, members of Arcadia’s Genetic Counseling Class of 2018 received grants and awards to conduct research on genetic diseases and developmental issues.

Natalie Burrill ’18

Burrill was named a fellow of the interdisciplinary Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for the 2017-18 academic year. Funded by a grant from the federal Maternal Child Health Bureau, the LEND fellowship’s core curriculum includes didactic courses and experiential activities aimed to promote leadership development.

Burrill is conducting her research, “Development of a Myopathy Rating Scale in Mitochondrial Disease: Patient Perspective,” in conjunction with thesis adviser Kathleen Valverde, professor and chair of Genetic Counseling at Arcadia. The program also allows her to work alongside LEND advisor Livija Medne, MS, CGC and CHOP thesis mentors Dr. Marni Falk, Colleen Clarke Muraresku, MS, CGC, and Zarazuela Zolkipli-Cunningham, MBChB, MRCP.

Marissa Benedict ’18

Benedict received the 2018 Marie Barr Genetic Counseling Award to assess the use of psychotropic medications in children with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS). The award, supported by the Center for CdLS and Related Diagnoses at CHOP, is presented annually to a graduate student in Arcadia’s Genetic Counseling program whose research addresses rare developmental diagnoses.

Benedict’s project aims to determine which medications work best for children with CdLS, who are prone to behavioral difficulties, anxiety, and hyperactivity. She will research alongside CdLS Center Director Dr. Ian Krantz and Clinical Director Sarah (Noon) Raible MS, CGC.

Eileen Barr ’18

Barr, the 2017 recipient of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Cystic Fibrosis and CFTR Spectrum Special Interest Groups Student Research Scholarship, is working with Valverde, University of Pennsylvania Hospital’s Dr. Denis Hadjiliadis and Dr. Dan Dorgan, and University of Pennsylvania’s Rebecca Mueller, LCGC on “Experiences of Men with Cystic Fibrosis on Sexual and Reproductive Health.” The project is a continuation of thesis research by Kelsey Spielman ’17.

The scholarship is awarded annually to a genetic counselor or genetic counseling student conducting a clinical or research project related to Cystic Fibrosis.

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