LGMD Clinic Staff: Lauren Brady
Affiliation: McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Role or Position: Genetic Counsellor
What education and training did you have to arrive at your current position?
I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University and then went on to finish my masters degree in genetic counseling at Sarah Lawrence College in New York state.
What led you to follow a career in patient services and clinical care in muscular dystrophy in particular?
In my first semester of genetic counseling school there was a group project where we were given a scenario for a results disclosure appointment. Our group’s scenario was to disclose a positive genetic result for Becker Muscular Dystrophy to a 19 yr old male named Felix who loved playing basketball. My job for the research project was to research the clinical/natural history of BMD. We had not learnt much about BMD or any of the LGMDs yet – but I found them very interesting and I spent a lot of time beyond the group project doing my own reading, research, and learning. This interest prompted me to approach neuromuscular specialist Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky as a thesis supervisor. There was no genetic counselor in the clinic at the time (but a clear need for one). I fit in well with the rest of the neuromuscular team and I was fortunate to be hired there after graduation – and I am still here 8 years later!
What areas of clinic support or patient care are you most involved in?
I am most involved in the diagnosis portion of patient care – coordinating genetic testing, interpretation of the genetic test results, explaining genetic test results, and organizing testing of other family members if needed. I also get involved when the individual with MD (or any family members) are thinking of having children and want to discuss carrier testing for their partner or for a current/future pregnancy.
How does your work help patients? What are you most passionate about and excites you most about the future of LGMD Patient Care?
Like most people in the field, I get excited about the possibility of targeted and effective treatments. As a genetics nerd, I am really passionate about the discovery of new MD genes and the use of new genetics/multi-omics technology to find genetic variants not picked up by current testing. Since a lot of upcoming therapies are focused on a single subtype of MD, I think it is important to try and get a definitive molecular diagnosis. It’s hard to invest in treatments if you don’t know the mechanism of the condition because you don’t know the genetic cause.
What would you like patients and others interested in LGMD to know about NMD clinics who serve LGMD patients?
I have only ever worked in one NMD clinic so i can only speak to that – but honestly i am not sure. we are a great team but we are just a bunch of regular people.
What inspires you to continue working in this field?
The physician I work with, Dr. Tarnopolsky. his energy and dedication to the people we see in our clinic is endless. I have never met anyone as intelligent and hard-working as him. he inspires our team every day.
WHAT IS ONE UNIQUE FACT ABOUT YOU THAT MANY OTHER PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW?
I have been doing pole fitness for the past 6 years. i have done performances with the big 6-7 inch boots and everything!
How can patients encourage you and help your work?
When it comes to genetic testing and diagnosis, we do the best we can with the tools and technology we have available to us. If there are any further genetic testing research studies available, we will try to enroll you. If you learn about any research studies doing specialized genetic testing that you want to be involved in– let us know! If they are recruiting, we can see if you can be enrolled. It can take a long time to get these results back and we appreciate how frustrating it is, but we are going to do our best to get that final diagnosis.