Jehannine Austin, Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Medical Genetics, has been elected the next president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), the largest professional organization for genetic counselors in the world.
Dr. Austin, a Canada Research Chair in Translational Psychiatric Genomics and a Research Scientist at the BC Mental Health and Addictions Institute, will be the first non-American president of the U.S.-based organization, which was created in 1979.
“It is an opportunity to advocate for my profession — and for the patients that we serve as genetic counsellors — on a larger scale,” Dr. Austin said. “I’d like to help find ways for increased professional growth and recognition for genetic counsellors, to increase awareness of the unique skill set of genetic counsellors among health care providers and the public at large, and to expand the genetic counsellor workforce and employment opportunities for genetic counsellors.”
A board certified genetic counsellor, Dr. Austin is graduate advisor to UBC’s Genetic Counselling MSc program, which is one of four such programs in Canada and the largest in the country, having graduated its 100th student in May.
Dr. Austin completed her PhD in neuropsychiatric genetics at the University of Wales College of Medicine (U.K.) and her clinical training as a genetic counselor at UBC. Her research work is aimed at using a clinical genetics perspective to improve outcomes for people with psychiatric disorders and their families.
In 2012, she founded the world’s first specialist psychiatric genetic counselling service of its kind. Prior to being elected as president of NSGC, Dr. Austin has held a number of leadership roles within the organization, and received the International Leadership Award in 2013.