Faculty Leadership

Rebecca Darrah, PhD

Co-Director of the Genetic Counseling Training Program; Co-Director of the MS in Genetic Counseling and MA in Bioethics Dual Degree Program

Rebecca Darrah, PhD is a board certified and licensed genetic counselor, and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences. Becky earned her Genetic Counseling Master’s Degree in 2000, and her Master’s Degree in Bioethics in 1998, both from CWRU. She has worked as a genetic counselor and clinical supervisor in both prenatal and general genetics, and has been a leader in the Genetic Counseling Training Program at CWRU since 2005, holding various positions including Clinical Coordinator, Assistant Director, and Associate Director.

In 2010 Becky graduated from the doctoral program at CWRU with a PhD in Genetics. She leads a research lab that focuses on genetic modifiers of cystic fibrosis (CF) airway disease, including studying the relationship between variation in the TGFb1, EDNRA, and AGTR2 genes and clinical severity in CF lung disease. Her lab also uses novel mouse models of CF to studying interventions aimed at improving pulmonary mechanics, response to infection, and circadian rhythms as a means to improve quality of life for people with CF. She mentors both genetic counseling and doctoral students in her lab.

Dr. Darrah is co-chair of the National Society of Genetic Counselor’s Cystic Fibrosis Special Interest Group, and serves on the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling’s Program Review Committee. She is also a member of the Pediatric Ethics Board for Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, an Advisory Board member for the Research Institute of Children’s Health, and serves on the Faculty senate Research Committee and Conflict of Interest Committee.

 

Michelle Merill, MS

Co-Director of the Genetic Counseling Training Program

Michelle Merrill, MS, is a board certified and licensed genetic counselor, and is an Instructor in the Department of Genetic & Genome Sciences. Michelle is also a genetic counselor in the Center for Human Genetics at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Michelle earned her master's degree in genetic counseling in 2002 from Case Western Reserve University, and first worked at MetroHealth Medical Center until 2012 and founded their Hereditary Cancer Clinic. At MetroHealth, Michelle also directed the clinical rotation experience for genetic counseling students, residents, and fellows during their time seeing patients in Clinical Genetics. She was a member of the Breast Cancer Leadership Committee and the Palliative Care team. In addition, she participated in clinical research involving the utilization of cancer genetic testing services among patients diagnosed with breast cancer. She has given numerous professional and community educational presentations involving hereditary cancer syndromes, ethics and genetics, and careers in genetic counseling.

In 2012, Michelle came to University Hospitals where she has continued counseling patients and families at risk for hereditary cancer, and supervising clinical rotation experiences in the Cancer Genetics Clinic for genetic counseling students, residents and fellows. She also continues to give numerous educational presentations about cancer genetic testing and the impact of testing on family members. Michelle has participated in the initiative to bring Telemedicine genetic counseling services for inherited cancer risk assessment at University Hospitals, and has piloted genetic counselor billing. She was appointed the Associate Director of Genetic Counseling in 2018 and was awarded the Linda Vinney Endowed Chair in Cancer Genetic Counseling in 2019.

Before becoming Co-Director, Michelle became Director of Clinical Training in the Genetic Counseling Training Program in 2018, and added rotations with industry settings to broaden students’ exposure. She is a member of the Admissions committee and sits on a number of student research committees and oral examination committees.

Aaron Goldenberg, PhD, MA, MPH

Director of Research, Co-Director of the MS in Genetic Counseling and MA in Bioethics Dual Degree Program

Aaron Goldenberg, PhD, MA, MPH is an Associate Professor and vice chair of the Department of Bioethics & Medical Humanities at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Goldenberg is also the Co-Director of the Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law, a NIH Center of Excellence in ELSI Research and Co-Director of the Genetic Counseling & Bioethics dual degree program.

Dr. Goldenberg received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University; his MPH from University of Michigan and earned his PhD in Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University. Since joining the faculty at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Goldenberg’s work focuses on the ethical, legal, and social implications of advances in genomics within clinical and public health settings. His research program has been grounded by a number of major project areas, including: 1) ethical implications of expanding newborn screening programs; 2) storage and use of perinatal and pediatric biological specimens for future research; and 3) the implications of genomics for communities experiencing health disparities. He is currently the Co-PI of a new project assessing the ELSI challenges of networked biorepositories aimed at promoting precision medicine.

In addition to these scholarly initiatives, Dr. Goldenberg is Director for Ethics, Policy and Practice for the National Newborn Screening Clearinghouse, also known as Baby’s First Test. He is a member of the Ethics and Legal Workgroup for the Newborn Screening Translational Research Network and the Legal and Legislative Workgroup for the American Public Health Laboratory Association. And, is a member of NIH’s IRB for the All of Us Research Program.

Dr. Goldenberg has been an active member of the genetic counseling program – lecturing on research ethics, public health genetics and co-teaches BETH 412 Ethical Issues in Genetics & Genomics. Dr. Goldenberg also sits on a number of the GC student research committees and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Genetic Counseling Program.