Genetics Day on the Hill
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
On July 10th, the Genetic Alliance hosted the third annual, and biggest, “Genetics Day on the Hill.” This exciting event on Capital Hill brought individuals from all areas of genetics to discuss and initiate change in the policies affecting our health. This summer, four Sarah Lawrence Genetic Counseling students, Aida Bytyci, Erika Heintz, Pooja Mohan, Lauren Thomas, and their Program Director, Caroline Lieber, traveled to Washington, D.C to represent the genetic counseling profession as integral players in policy change. The goal of Genetics Day is essentially to educate policymakers on Capitol Hill about policy issues of concern within the genetics community. This year, we celebrated the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by thanking policymakers for supporting this bill of crucial importance for the health and protection of all individuals. We also addressed the next topics on the agenda, which included discussions about federal oversight for genetic testing in the wake of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Another popular topic was the development of health information technology (Health IT) and the questions it raises. This event was an exciting opportunity to discuss ideas about genetic policy and consider the many directions the field is going.
Following this day on the Hill, there was the 2008 Transformational Leadership Conference in which many of the Genetics Day participants also attended. Pooja Mohan, a Sarah Lawrence Student, attended this conference and reports, "The genetic alliance 'Transformational leadership' conference far exceeded my expectations. As students it is not very often we get to meet with parent advocates and support groups and the conference allows you to interact with individuals that truly represent our community. The weekend conference had some very interesting workshops that were not only focused on genet ics but also had a very holistic approach towards growth and self-development. The conference represents the true spirit of community outreach and I would definitely recommend it to any one who is interested in patient care."
Overall, Genetics Day on the Hill and the Conference was a huge hit with Sarah Lawrence Students. Policymakers on the Hill have the ability to make decisions that impact laws throughout the nation. As members of the genetic counseling profession, we actively influenced these decisions to bring about positive change in the policies affecting lives everywhere!