Genomics and education by Dr Kim Nichols
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Genomics and education by Dr Kim Nichols


My name is Dr Kim Nichols and I’m a
science educator with The University of Queensland School of Education.
As part of the genomics and society group here at The University of
Queensland my role is to determine how educational and training programs for
health professionals and more broadly patients can effectively communicate
up-to-date information about genomics testing, the implications of genomics testing Well the predictor test is a type of
genetic test that can be carried out on an individual with a family history but
without symptoms of a particular disorder to determine whether or not
that disorder has been inherited and that type of testing seeks to identify
commonly known variations in genes, one or few genes, that are known to be
associated with particular inherited disorders Well rather than test one
or a group of genes at a time, genomic testing looks at the whole genome of an
individual or all of their genes, all at the same time. Testing the whole genome
means that not only could a variation in a gene, a particular gene of interest for
an inherited genetic disorder be discovered but other discoveries could be made at
the same time. These include variations to genes that are known to be associated with other disorders that individual hadn’t requested to be tested for example, as well as variations to other genes for which we don’t yet know the impact on a person’s health. So as genomic testing is being
implemented, processes need to be put into place for health professionals to best
analyse and manage those complex types of results It will need to ensure that patients
have the scientific literacy skills to understand the results of their genetic
tests. Certainly patients can benefit from consultation with health professionals
but we’ll also need to build literacy in compulsory schooling with carefully
pitched information about the implications of genetic testing.

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