"Genomics is a constantly evolving field and given the technological advancements, improved understanding of its impact on human disease and implementation into routine healthcare, there is a huge demand for a workforce that is skilled in genomics."
The concept that our bodies have a genetic code that provides the instructions on how our bodies grow and develop has always been fascinating to me. My interest in this area grew because of my Bachelor of Arts and Science degree where I majored in genetics and history.
Genomics is a constantly evolving field and given the technological advancements, improved understanding of its impact on human disease and implementation into routine healthcare, there is a huge demand for a workforce that is skilled in genomics.
The Master of Genomics and Health course was appealing to me as it was really the only course of its kind, and there was the ability to tailor the course to suit your interests, through choosing electives, your internships and research.
What I enjoyed about the course was the diverse range of subjects. We studied clinical genomics, variant curation, counselling practice and ethics just to name a few and I also studied project management as my elective. This course helped develop my skills and knowledge of genomics and research, communication and counselling to families and stakeholders. Having a small cohort meant there was ample support available, and the ability to create great relationships with fellow students.
Being a part of the Melbourne Children’s Campus meant that we had the ability to network and attend presentations from leaders in the field based at the University of Melbourne, the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
We were fortunate enough to be able to select two internship placements in our second year and I did one at the Department of Health and Human Services and one at Cancer Council Victoria, where I worked on educational material in genomics for patients and GPs. This exposure to the workforce was extremely valuable and helped us put our learnings into practice.
I also undertook a research project about communicating genomic information to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, which helped develop my skills in qualitative and quantitative research as well as research writing and the publication process.
I have been working for the last two years as a clinical research coordinator for the white matter disorders clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Massimo’s Mission Leukodystrophy Program at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
In this role I coordinate the patient clinic and our research program which involves a patient registry, clinical genomic testing and research analysis of undiagnosed cases. I have also recently taken on coordinating a clinical trial using antisense oligonucleotide therapy in patients with Alexander disease.
I thoroughly enjoy the diverse nature of my role, where I can undertake research, help provide variant curation on our undiagnosed cases as well as general project management duties.
The skills gained from the course provided a strong foundation for this role, especially the knowledge of clinical genomics and the ability to network with local experts via the course.
My advice to future students is that there are lots of diverse roles in genomics that the course could lead you to, so choose your electives wisely to help complement your career goals.
I am inspired by implementing genomic medicine into healthcare to help improve patient outcomes. I now dedicate my time working on conditions called leukodystrophies, which are often devastating genetic conditions with limited if any treatment options that are often fatal to children. The families that I work with inspire me to continue our mission towards improving diagnoses and translating research to treatments.
My goal is to continue working in project management in genomic related projects with an interest in delivering clinical trials to our Australian patients.