Podcast Episode 67: PDGENE: Genetic Counseling

Many diseases have a genetic component. In most instances, these gene variants are risk factors for the disease, that is, they raise the risk that someone might develop the disease. It is estimated that 10% to 15% of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have a genetic form of the disease, and several genes have been identified that may raise the risk of developing PD or may affect its severity and course. Professional genetic counselors can help people sort out their risks, advise them on the pros and cons of getting a genetic test, and explain and put into perspective the results of genetic tests.

The Parkinson’s Foundation has recently initiated the PD GENEration study, which will ultimately recruit and provide genetic testing and counseling to 15,000 people with PD to investigate the relationship between genes and PD. A crucial component of the study is genetic counseling. In this podcast, Certified Genetic Counselor Jenny Verbrugge, MS, CGC of Indiana University, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, discusses the role of genetic counseling in general, in what situations people may want to avail themselves of it, and the value of home genetic tests versus those performed by a clinical laboratory.

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About This Episode

Released: November 5, 2019

Jennifer L. Verbrugge, MS, LCGC

jenniferJennifer is a certified and licensed genetic counselor in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics (MMGE) at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She received a Master of Science degree from the Indiana University Genetic Counseling Program in 1998 and she worked as a prenatal genetic counselor for 16 years before joining MMGE in 2014. Since joining the department in 2014, Jennifer has been involved with several Parkinson’s disease research initiatives involving genetic testing, disclosure of genetic research results and telephone genetic counseling. Jennifer helped develop and implement a telephone genetic counseling process for a subset of participants in the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) study, an observational study sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Research that follows groups of people with and without Parkinson’s disease.

Jennifer is a member of a genetic counseling team at Indiana University that has provided telephone genetic counseling to over 11,000 Parkinson’s disease research study participants. Jennifer has assisted with the development and implementation of the genetic counseling process for the PDGENEration study, a national initiative sponsored by the Parkinson’s Foundation that offers free genetic testing and genetic counseling for people with Parkinson’s disease. She is a member of the Indiana University Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) Working Group on the Return of Research Results, the Indiana Network of Genetic Counselors (INGC) and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). Jennifer’s research interests include evaluation of telephone genetic counseling services and examining the impact of genetic testing and genetic counseling on research participants.

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For all of our Substantial Matters podcast episodes, visit parkinson.org/podcast.

For more insights on this topic, listen to our podcast episode "Genetics and PD: What do we know so far?" and "How Clinical Studies Help People with PD".

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