Katrina Goddard, Kaiser Permanente Genetic Epidemiology Researcher
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Katrina Goddard, Kaiser Permanente Genetic Epidemiology Researcher

I’m Katrina Goddard, and I
study genetic epidemiology at the Kaiser Permanente
Center for Health Research. To me genetics meant fruit
flies and corn and things like that which wasn’t as interesting
to me, but what I learned about in graduate school was human
genetics and that was much more fascinating. Because now
we’re understanding about what our underlying genetic make-up,
how that impacts us as individuals in terms
of causing disease. In the very near future there are
conditions that we already know about that we could look at screening
for those conditions in broader populations. So for instance Lynch
syndrome or BRCA screening, those are things that typically are
only done in high risk populations, and I think there is a question of
whether it makes sense to screen low-risk populations as well. People who have a mutation that
causes Lynch syndrome have up to an 80 percent lifetime risk of
developing colorectal cancer, and they also have an increased risk of
developing other kinds of cancer. Their first-degree family members
have a 50 percent risk of also carrying a mutation and therefore
being at increased risk of cancer. We are trying to understand ways
of implementing screening for Lynch syndrome in newly diagnosed colorectal
cancer patients, and that is very practical and very integrated into the patient
care at Kaiser Permanente, and it really reaches the individual
patients at Kaiser Permanente. I am driven by the potential for
contributing to general knowledge. It’s very rewarding that we get
to do work that is very satisfying and feels that it could be beneficial
to people, and that keeps you going. Every day.

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