Research Thesis

Completion of a research project is a GCMP requirement. The goal of the research project is to (1) learn how to synthesize and critique the research literature; (2) formulate a specific hypothesis and determine an appropriate study design and analysis plan; (3) understand research methodology; and (4) organize research results in a coherent and meaningful manner.

The research project is driven by the interests of the individual student supported by the program faculty and/or clinical supervisors. Starting in the fall of the first year, students take an introductory graduate-level course in Epidemiology where they learn about study design, variables, and analysis. Then, in the spring of the first year, students take the Research Methods for Genetic Counseling course where they are guided in designing their thesis project, choosing a thesis committee, and writing a research proposal. By the end of the first year, students should have an approved thesis project and they can begin the process of obtaining approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). After IRB approval, student can begin collecting, analyzing, and writing the thesis. The research typically begins before the end of the summer.

Examples of recent or current thesis projects include:

Class of 2019

  • Patient experience and barriers with family communication after receiving genomic information from a biobank – Caitlin O’Brien, Class of 2019
  • Clinical presentation of patients with mutations in moderate penetrance genes: A case series – Audrey Morrissette, Class of 2019
  • Utilization of Cell-Free DNA Screening for Single Gene Disorders Seen More Commonly in Offspring of Older Fathers- Taylor Reeve, Class of 2019
  • Counseling BRCA1/BRCA2 Positive Women over the Age of 75 Regarding Risk Reducing Salpingo-Oophorectomy(RRSO): The Perspectives of Genetic Counselors- Amanda Roth, Class of 2019
  • Trends in Reproductive Male Partner Testing When Female Patient is Identified To be A Genetic Disease Carrier – Laurie Simone, Class of 2019
  • Trends in Reimbursement for Reproductive Genetic Counseling by Multiple Payers from 2010-2018 – Francesca Spinosi, Class of 2019

Class of 2020

  • Depression Screening Practices of Prenatal Genetic Counselors – Sarah Belsky, Class of 2020
  • Diversity in the Genetic Counseling Profession – Perspectives on Barriers and Motivations – Emily Chien, Class of 2020
  • Motivations for Pursuing Genetic Counseling to Explore the Availability of Panel Genetic Testing: A Pilot Study – Jessalyn Gerber, Class of 2020
  • Uptake and outcomes of invasive diagnostic testing for couples or single women at-risk for a recessive or X-linked condition in their offspring and has this changed over time. – Kendall Snyder, Class of 2020
  • Patient Opinions on Prenatal Genetic Testing - Deirdre Sumski, Class of 2020
  • Assessing the Current State of Affairs Surrounding Education on Counseling Direct to Consumer (DTC) Genetic Testing Patients through Surveying Genetic Counseling Program Directors – Erin Swartz, Class of 2020
  • The Impact of the “American Society of Breast Surgeon’s 2019 Consensus Guidelines on Genetic Testing for Hereditary Breast Cancer” on Cancer Genetic Counselors. – Jillian Tokarczyk, Class of 2020
  • Patient Presentations with a Li-Fraumeni syndrome Diagnosis through Different Ascertainment Methods – Julia Weston, Class of 2020

Class of 2021

  • Psychological impact of counseling patients on aggressive management recommendations associated with pathogenic mutations in BRCA1/2,CDH1,TP53 and Lynch Syndrome Genes - Matthew Emery
  • An Exploration of Variant of Unknown Significance (VUS) Counseling for Underrepresented Populations in the Pre-Test Setting - Melissa Gandhi
  • Clinical Information Impacts on Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) Results - Natalie Jacob
  • Patient uptake rates of cell-free DNA screening for all chromosomes and copy number variants - Olga Latosh
  • Measuring Patient Empowerment in Consumer-Initiated Genetic Testing Utilizing a Revised Short Form Outcome Scale - Enrique Lopez
  • An Evaluation of Rutgers Genetic Counseling Certificate Program - Erin McGraw
  • Social Network Mapping for a Genetic Population Health Screen of Families with Large Cascade Uptake - Alexis Morgan
  • What proportion of patients with a recessive genetic disorder presenting for evaluation to Medical Genetics clinic would have been predicted if the parents had a large expanded carrier screening panel prior to conceiving? - Kelly Roche
  • Implementation of a genetic testing stewardship program in a pediatric hospital setting - Alexandra Barbarese

Class of 2022

  • Factors that impede and facilitate the practical application of HBOC screening use in community cancer clinics that service underserved populations - Alexandra Bowen
  • Assessing genetic counseling practices for individuals with unexpected findings on expanded carrier screening - Sydney Clevenger
  • Outcomes and management of pregnancies at-risk for sex chromosome aneuploidies identified by cell-free DNA screening - Cali Fitzgerald
  • How updates to the NCCN guidelines expanding germline testing eligibility has influenced genetic counseling practices - Molly Fitzpatrick
  • Patient Interest in Utilizing Diagnostic Testing and Novel Screening Methodologies to Address Reproductive Risks Associated with Advanced Paternal Age - Kylie Katz
  • Effects of Celsr3 Conditional Knock-Out on Striatal Cholinergic Interneuron Morphology - Julianne McGinnis
  • Patient’s Perception and Motivation related to PGT-P - Kelsey Reynolds
  • To understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected genetic counseling training programs – specifically throughout rotations - Carly Scarborough
  • Evaluating the utility of a new pathogenicity predictor to clarify variants in pediatric cardiomyopathy - Sarah Trackman
  • Patient Perspectives and Reactions to Positive Genetic Test Results via Population Testing Efforts: A Qualitative Stud - Eva Vailionis