Genetic Counseling graduate Stephany Tandy-Connor ‘07M was the lead investigator for a study examining direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies, such as AncestryDNA and 23AndMe. With companies that provide insight into family and heritage growing in popularity, Tandy-Connor’s research highlights the downside of using DTC test results to obtain unofficial medical information.
While laws prohibit DTC companies from providing direct medical diagnoses, users often avoid this rule by paying a third party to analyze raw data for possible genetic diseases. The reliability of DTC and third party testing has been called into question by genetic counselors, who stress the importance of professional medical consultations for patients who are processing genetic testing results.
Tandy-Connor explains that DTC tests are not deliberately misinforming consumers— rather, there is a lack of transparency as companies fail to address the limitations of these reports.
Conducted at Ambry Genetics, the study has already been cited in a number of media outlets around the world, and was recently published in Genetics in Medicine, the official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics.