MS/MA in Genetic Counseling & Bioethics Courses

Typical Course of Study

First Year

Fall Semester

  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Molecular & Cytogenetics (GENE 524) (2 Units)
  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics & Genomics (GENE 526) (2 Unites)
  • Principles and Practices of Genetic Counseling (GENE 528) (3 Units)
  • Direct Practice Generalist Methods & Skills (SASS 477) (3 Units)

Spring Semester

  • Psychosocial Issues in Genetic Counseling (GENE 529) (3 Units)
  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics (GENE 525) (2 Units)
  • Cancer Genetics (GENE 531) (2 Units)
  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (2 Units)

Summer Semester

  • Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532) (3 Units)

Second Year

Fall Semester

  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Biochemical Genetics (GENE 527)
  • Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532) (4 Units)
  • Foundations in Bioethics I (BETH 401) (6 Units)
  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (3 Units)

Spring Semester

  • Ethical Issues in Genetics/Genomics (BETH 412) (3 Units)
  • Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532) (4 Units)
  • Bioethics Capstone (BETH 604) (1.5 Units)
  • Foundation in Bioethics II (BETH 402) (6 Units)

Summer Semester

  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (3 Units)

Third Year

Fall Semester

  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (3 Units)
  • Clinical Ethics Rotation (BETH 405) (3 Units)
  • BETH Elective (3 Units)
  • Bioethics Mini Elective (BETH 603) (1.5 Units)

Course List

GENE 524 Advanced Medical Genetics

Molecular and Cytogenetics An in-depth forum for discussion of fundamental principles regarding clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics and their relevance to medical genetics, genomics and genetic counseling. Following a historical overview, topics include a discussion of numerical and structural aberrations, sex chromosome abnormalities, issues regarding population cytogenetics, clinical relevance of such findings as marker chromosomes, mosaicism, contiguous gene deletions and uniparental disomy. The course will cover principles of molecular genetics including structure, function and regulations of genes (DNA, RNA, proteins), genetic variation, inheritance patterns and both cytogenetic and molecular laboratory techniques (fluorescence in situ hybridization, micro-array, SNP analyses, sequencing) in the clinical laboratory.

GENE 525  Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics

Fundamental principles regarding congenital malformations, dysmorphology and syndromes. Discussion of a number of genetic disorders from a systems approach: CNS malformations, neurodegenerative disorders, craniofacial disorders, connective tissue disorders, skeletal dysplasias, hereditary deafness, cardiovascular genetics, etc. Discussions include diagnosis, etiology, genetics, prognosis and management.

GENE 526  Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics and Genomics

This course provides a foundation in quantitative genetics as well as genomic approaches and technologies which have greatly expanded our understanding of not only rare genetic disorders but common ones as well. Concepts related to risk assessment and calculation and its application to medical genetics including principles and application of Hardy Weinberg equilibrium and applying Bayes' Theorem as a mechanism to refine risk assessment based on patient-specific data are covered. The clinical implications of interpreting next-generation sequencing results, identifying limitations of genomic technologies, and practicing annotation and interpretation of genomic testing results are also covered. In addition, resources and bioinformatics tools including national databases and clinical labs to aid in the interpretation of genomic test results including variants of uncertain significance are discussed.

GENE 527  Advanced Medical Genetics: Metabolic Disorders

Fundamental principles of metabolic testing; amino acid disorders; organic acid disorders; carbohydrate disorders; peroxisomal disorders; mitochondrial disorders; etc. Discussion of screening principles and newborn screening as well as therapy for metabolic diseases.

GENE 528  Principles and Practices of Genetic Counseling

Fundamental principles needed for the practicing genetic counselor. Topics include skills in obtaining histories (prenatal, perinatal, medical, developmental, psychosocial and family); pedigree construction and analysis, physical growth and development; the genetic evaluation; the physical examination and laboratory analyses; prenatal issues, prenatal screening and diagnosis; and teratogenicity.

GENE 529  Psychosocial Aspects of Genetic Counseling

Fundamental principles regarding the psychosocial aspect of birth defects and genetic disease, its psychological and social impact on the individual and family. Topics include the genetic counseling interview process, issues regarding pregnancy, chronicity, death and loss, as well as the impact of cultural issues. Resources for families are also explored. Basic interviewing skills are addressed. Students will have an opportunity for practice of skills through role play and actual interviewing situations.

GENE 531 Clinical Cancer Genetics

This seminar discusses basic concepts in cancer epidemiology, principles of cancer genetics, inherited cancer syndromes, cytogenetics of cancers, pedigree analysis for familial cancer risk and approaches to the differential diagnosis of inherited and familial cancers. Additionally, topics of risk assessment, genetic testing, screening, management and psychosocial issues in providing genetic counseling to patients with familial and inherited cancers will be discussed.

GENE 532  Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling

This clinical practicum provides the student an opportunity to function as a genetic counselor by preparing for cases; obtaining appropriate histories; determining risks; performing psychosocial assessments; discussing disease characteristics, inheritance, and natural history; providing anticipatory guidance and supportive counseling; using medical and community resources; and follow-up. Students rotate through four clinical areas and one laboratory and will register for a total of 12 hours over the course of the program. Recommended preparation: Admission to Genetic Counseling Training Program.

GENE 601  Genetic Counseling Research Seminar

This required research seminar is a continuation of the fall research seminar. The major focus of the spring semester will be to provide guidance regarding the development of a research proposal. Discussion continues regarding quantitative, qualitative and mixed research approaches except now in the context of specific research projects. Students will identify their specific research question and specific aims, discuss issues regarding review of the literature, develop the appropriate research design (study population, data collection, data analysis) to answer the research question, discuss the required format of the proposal, human subjects' protection (IRBs) issues and the proposal defense. The end product of the seminar will be a written research project proposal.

BETH 401  Foundations in Bioethics

The first of the two required seminar courses, this course covers five basic topic areas in bioethics: death and dying; health professional-patient relationship; method and theory in bioethics; organ transplantation; and ethics and children. The course meets twice weekly and is taught in seminar format by Center faculty members who are experts on specific topics. Pre-entry.

BETH 402  Foundations in Bioethics II

This course completes the required seminar core and covers the basic bioethics topic areas: health care justice; defining 'health care needs;' reproduction and fertility ethics; research ethics; and ethics in genetics. The course meets twice weekly and is taught in seminar format by Center faculty members who are experts on specific topics. Recommended preparation: BETH 401.

BETH 405  Clinical Ethics Rotation

In this course, students will become familiar with the clinical, psychological, social, professional, and institutional context in which ethical problems arise. This course exposes students to clinical cases, to hospital ethics committees and ethics consultation programs, to institutional review boards (IRB), and to hospital policies covering the "do not resuscitate" orders (DNR), advance directives, withdrawal of artificial feeding, organ procurement and transplantation, and medical futility. Requires minimum of 8 total hours of rotation experience per week during two-semester 10-week rotations. Locations for this course include: MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals of Cleveland, and the Hospice of the Western Reserve. Recommended preparation: BETH 401 or concurrent enrollment.

BETH 412  Ethical Issues in Genetics and Genomics

This course is designed to familiarize graduate students with the major controversies regarding the generation and use of new human genetic information. Topics will include the growth of susceptibility and predictive genetic testing, prenatal diagnosis, genetic discrimination, human genetic variation research, eugenics, genetic counseling, and the limits of human gene therapy. The course will be conducted as a seminar, involving discussions of readings, guest speakers, and student presentations.

SASS 477  Direct Practice Foundation: Methods & Skills

The course introduces major social work theories (i.e., systems-based, cognitive-behavioral, and relationship-based intervention approaches utilized in social work [and genetic counseling] practice with individuals and families. The course is structured to include lecture, discussion and experiential laboratory learning. Interviewing skills for beginning practitioners relevant to work with individuals and families will be a major focus of work both in lectures and during the skills lab incorporating engagement, assessment, goal-setting/treatment planning, intervention and evaluation, termination and follow-up.