Focus Internship

The Focus Internship is a unique feature of the Emory Genetic Counseling Training Program.   It spans the 2 years of the students' training, and is intended to provide an extended and in-depth experience in one area of clinical/public health/laboratory genetics practice and/or research. In addition to participating in activities and meetings, and offering valuable work of benefit to their mentor, the Focus Internship provides the basis for the student’s Capstone Project which includes: 1) project design and execution, review/collection and analysis of data leading to: 2) submission of an abstract to a national genetics meeting, and 3) development and completion of a first-author publishable manuscript based on their project.

Students work under the guidance of a mentor and committee on research project(s) in one of several possible clinical, laboratory and public health areas, spending an average of 6 hrs/week ( 90 hrs/semester) on their focus activities during the fall and spring semesters of their 1st and 2nd years, and the equivalent of 4-5 full time weeks during the interim summer. Mentors and focus projects are drawn not only from multiple departments within Emory, but also through affiliated clinics/rotation sites and external institutions, including the CDC. Information about the various focus opportunities and mentor contacts are made available to the students in the summer prior to their matriculation.  Students complete the interview and selection process during the pre-fall term week.

Examples of Past Focus Internship Opportunities: (Assignments are based on student interest, availability, and mentor preferences through a match process.) 

Public Health Emphasis

  • CDC - Muscular Dystrophy Surveillance, Tracking and Research Network
  • State Newborn Screening Lab - Evaluation of screening methods for congenital hypothyroidism
  • CDC - Laboratory Research and Evaluation Branch: Genetic testing and the electronic health record
  • GA Dept. Public Health - Breast Cancer Genomics Education, Surveillance and Policy Program
  • Southeast Regional Genetics Group - Development of a newborn screening patient registry
  • CDC Office of Public Health Genomics – Implementing evidence-based cardiovascular genomic testing and family health history applications in public health and healthcare settings.

Clinical Genetics Practice/Research Emphasis 

  • Emory Lysosomal Disease Program  1) Incidence of Pompe Disease among individuals in a targeted neurology population 2) Pregnancy complications in women with fabry disease  3) use of online social networking among individuals with Fabry & Gaucher disease
  • Geisinger Health System -  Impact of prenatal microarray testing
  • Emory - Evaluation of long-term outcomes in individuals with Duarte galactosemia
  • Emory Dept of Neurology - Familial dystonia biorepository and natural history study
  • Emory Autism Center - Genetic evaluation of adults with autism spectrum disorder
  • Atlanta Jewish Disease Screen - Comparison of face-to-face counseling with an online education module
  • Wellstar Kennestone Hospital - Identification and recontact of cancer genetics patients eligible for nextgen testing
  • Emory Cystic Fibrosis Clinic - Evaluation of genetics knowledge among teens with cf
  • Fragile X Clinic - Development and implementation of a method to communicate information about the risk of premature ovarian insufficiency to mothers of children with fragile x syndrome
  • CHOA Turner Syndrome Clinic - Does genetic counseling influence a family’s psychosocial adjustment to the diagnosis of Turner syndrome and their knowledge of correct medical care?
  • Emory Genetic Opthalmology Clinic – Identification of past patients with retinoblastoma and facilitation of genetic counseling and testing of proband and at-risk family members
  • Skeletal Dysplasia Clinic - Limb Deficiencies: phenotype and inheritance patterns

Clinical Genetics Laboratory Practice/Counseling Emphasis

  • International Standards for Cytogenomic Arrays Consortium - Collection of phenotypic data associated with clinical CMA testing
  • Emory Genetics Laboratory - Development of a web-based tool for targeted gene selection in multi-gene panels
  • Emory Genetics Laboratory - Clinical/biochemical information on patients undergoing molecular testing for Metabolic Conditions Identified on Newborn Screening
  • Winship Cancer Institute - Evaluation and beta-testing of clinical software tools for interpretation of cancer genome sequencing
  • Emory School of Public Health - 3q29 Deletion Registry: Impact of diagnosis on Caregivers of patients affected by 3q29 deletions

Activities that students are involved in during their internships include, but are not limited to:

  • Performing literature reviews/summaries
  • Research subject education and consenting
  • Data collection, entry and review
  • Family history collection and pedigree program entry
  • Assistance with patient follow-up
  • Chart reviews and data abstraction
  • Development of patient or provider educational materials
  • Lay/public and provider presentations
  • Assistance with laboratory procedures, report writing, provider contact
  • Survey development
  • Developing and submitting meeting abstracts
  • Creation of condition specific counseling materials, sample patient/provider letters
  • IRB Protocol development/submission
  • Project coordinator activities
  • Conducting phone/in-person interviews
  • Providing basic genetic counseling/education
  • Creating PowerPoint presentations
  • Database/resource searching
  • Attending standing personnel meetings
  • Attending regional or national meetings related to their focus project