LIU Post Students Improve Lives Through Their Work in the Joseph, Tita and Don Monti Genetics and Human Development Laboratory
The Monti Lab is the training and research facility for Long Island’s only graduate program in genetic counseling, preparing future health-care professionals to help patients and families understand risks and make best choices
Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Post, Long Island University
Brookville, N.Y. – Students in LIU Post's Master of Science program in genetic counseling are making an impact, counseling patients, families and caregivers about the genetic causes of medical conditions, the risks faced by family members and courses of action that can lead to better outcomes.
Students in the program study at the Joseph, Tita and Don Monti Genetics and Human Development Laboratory. Equipped with the most advanced scientific tools, the laboratory was funded with a generous donation of $500,000 from The Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation, the region's premier organization dedicated to cancer research, education, patient care and fellowship.
The lab complements LIU's commitment to providing unique learning opportunities and fostering global outreach, preparing students to make a difference in their communities and beyond. This summer, graduate student Lauren Giannetti of Verona, N.J., spent a week in Puerto Rico, where Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS), a serious genetic disorder that leads to albinism, blindness, colitis, bleeding and pulmonary fibrosis, is unusually prevalent. An estimated 1 in 8,200 people in Puerto Rico have the condition--the highest concentration in the world. Giannetti worked with colleagues to help local patients, families, doctors, medical students and news media better understand the often-misdiagnosed condition.
While in Puerto Rico, Giannetti also spoke at the HPS Network's annual conference. "Our main goal was patient and doctor education about this disease," said Giannetti, a second-year student in LIU Post's M.S. program in genetic counseling, the only program of its kind on Long Island and one of only 31 in the country. "A woman came up to me and said, ‘My three sons have this. What can I do?' I spent a lot of time with her going through her genetic test results and talking about ways to help her sons stay healthy."
The genetic counseling program has established a working relationship with the HPS Network, based in nearby Oyster Bay, N.Y. Founder Donna Appell, whose daughter Ashley has HPS and was the subject of a Stanford Medical School documentary, said the LIU Post students are a valuable resource for people facing genetic conditions.
"Coming out of that program, there is a confidence about these genetic counselors- to-be, and they get it," Appell said. "They understand the issues and the impact on the family. They can refer them to doctors and support groups who can help. And this impacts not just the patient but the whole family. What is the inheritance pattern? Should they get tested? Is there testing? Genetic counselors can help answer these questions."
"LIU is working," she said. "They're out there in the community."
Graduates of the program have secured positions at prominent institutions around the country, including Long Island's North Shore/Long Island Jewish Health System; The Fetal Care Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas; the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center/Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn.; The Medical University of South Carolina; Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa.; Myriad Genetics, Inc., in Los Angeles, Calif.; and Hawaii Community Genetics, which is associated with the Hawaii Department of Health.
More information on the M.S. in Genetic Counseling program at LIU Post can be found at www.liu.edu/post/genetic. More information on the Monti Foundation is at www.donmontifoundation.org. The Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network's website is www.hpsnetwork.org.
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