NSGC has member spokespersons available to participate in interviews with local, regional and national media. Please see below for full listing of our Expert Media Panel and their areas of focus.
Contact Information For Media Inquiries or Interview Requests with NSGC Spokespersons
Public Communications Inc.
Expert Media Panel Listing
Heather Zierhut, Ph.D., MS, CGC
NSGC President and Public Health and Primary Care Expert
University of Minnesota
Dr. Heather Zierhut is the president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Board of Directors. As NSGC’s Public Health and Primary Care Expert, Heather can discuss the psychosocial and public health implications involved with providing genetic counseling services. She can also discuss integrating genetics into primary care, access to genetic counseling in diverse communities and healthcare disparities related to genetics. As the head of the University of Minnesota’s Genetic Counseling Graduate program, she can speak to genetic counseling as a profession and the importance of genetics education and research. Heather has a rich history of working in higher education, clinical care and the healthcare industry.
Outside of her work with NSGC, Heather is a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota.
Heather received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. She then went on to her earn her master’s degree in genetic counseling from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and doctorate in philosophy - focused in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and genetics - with an epidemiology minor.
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Deepti Babu, MS, CGC (she/her)
NSGC President-Elect and Patient Communications Expert
Integrity Content Consulting
Deepti Babu is president-elect of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She chaired NSGC’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Committee. She previously hosted NSGC’s Genetic Counselors and You podcast.
As an accomplished writer, editor and genetic counselor, Babu has deep expertise in medical communications. With more than 20 years of experience in the clinic, she makes meaning of complex scientific topics for patients and consumers. She can readily address topics related to engaging audiences about genetics, genetic counseling, and rare disease.
Babu is the founder of Integrity Content Consulting, a medical content firm. Her previous work encompasses both clinical and communications roles, including: ThinkGenetic, Ambry Genetics, Alberta Health Services, Marshfield Clinic, Venture Publishing and Gale. She is also an avid foodie, and created a syndicated food column as one of her earliest writing credits.
Babu attended the University of Washington and received her master’s degree in human genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a board-certified genetic counselor. She is based in Alberta, Canada.
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Matt Bower, MS
NSGC Adult Neurology Expert
University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview
As NSGC’s Adult Neurology Expert, Matt Bower can discuss the genetics of neurologic diseases including Ataxia, Huntington disease, Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease. Mr. Bower can also speak to how he helps patients with inherited neurologic diseases navigate genetic testing from reviewing family history to interpreting results.
Additionally, Mr. Bower works in a clinical molecular diagnostics laboratory helping to uncover the underlying mechanisms of specific health conditions and diseases. He is working to apply new genetic testing technologies to the complex field of neurogenetics and other inherited diseases.
Mr. Bower attended Notre Dame University for his undergraduate degree and earned a master’s degree in genetic counseling from the University of Minnesota.
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Sara Riordan, MS, CGC
Precision Medicine and Consumer Genomics Expert
Unified Patient Network
Sara Riordan is the 2021 past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Board of Directors. As NSGC’s Precision Medicine and Consumer Genomics Expert, Riordan can discuss how an individual’s genetics can be used to tailor treatments for cancer and other health conditions. She can also discuss the wide spectrum of at-home genetic tests that are available either direct to the consumer or ordered with the involvement of a healthcare provider. Riordan’s 18-year genetic counseling career has spanned both academia and industry in the specialties of precision medicine, oncology, consumer genomics, and molecular diagnostics.
In addition to her position with NSGC, Riordan is the Vice President of Clinical and Research Programs at the Unified Patient Network, a precision health ecosystem that facilitates clinical and research collaboration between health systems, patients and biopharma. Riordan has held previous roles at leading biotechnology and precision oncology diagnostics firms such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Life Technologies, and Oncocyte. As a consultant and entrepreneur, Riordan has worked with many early-stage companies in developing and commercializing genomic tests and applications.
Riordan attended the University of California San Diego and received her master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of Arizona. She also received a master’s degree in Human Genetics research from the University of California Los Angeles. Riordan is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and is based in Sacramento, California.
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Gillian Hooker, PhD, ScM, LCGC
NSGC Clinical Genetic Testing and Reimbursement Expert
Gillian Hooker is the 2020 past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Board of Directors. As NSGC’s clinical genetic testing and reimbursement expert, she can discuss the landscape of genetic tests available to be ordered in the clinic, trends and policies impacting that landscape, including insurance coverage, and tools to support the appropriate use of genetic tests.
In addition to her work with NSGC, Hooker is the Vice President of Clinical Development for Concert Genetics. She provides clinical leadership and coordinates a number of internal and external collaborations to use test data, insurance claims and genetic testing market data to help with policy development for hospitals, health plans, and federal policymakers. Previously, Hooker served as the associate director of the NIH/Johns Hopkins Genetic Counseling Training Program and conducted research at the National Human Genome Research Institute as part of the ClinSeq team, studying the first health populations to undergo whole-exome sequencing.
She also holds an adjunct Associate Professor position at Vanderbilt University, leading the research arm of the Vanderbilt Genetic Counseling Training Program. In addition, she is on the advisory committee of the Wayne State University Genetic Counseling Training Program and serves as a thesis advisor to students in the University of Alabama Genetic Counseling Training Program and the Stanford Genetic Counseling Program.
Hooker received her master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the Johns Hopkins/NIH Genetic Counseling Training Program and completed her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics at Yale University. She completed her post-doctoral research in Cancer Prevention & Control at Georgetown University studying BRCA 1/2 testing and service delivery in a randomized controlled trial of telephone genetic counseling with newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.
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Susan Hahn, MS, CGC
NSGC Alzheimer’s Expert/NSGC Ethics Expert
University of Miami
As the National Society of Genetic Counselors Alzheimer’s Expert, Susan Hahn can discuss how she provides clinicians with a framework for assessing patients’ genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, helping to identify which patients could benefit from genetic testing. She can also speak to working with patients to help them understand the complex genetic nature of the disorder, and how family history and life choices can impact risk of the disease.
As the National Society of Genetic Counselors Ethics Expert, Susan Hahn can provide insight on the ethical, legal, and social issues related to genomic medicine. Specifically, she assesses health disparities in access to genetic testing, as well as the lack of genetic variation by ethnicity in genetic research findings.
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Brianne Kirkpatrick, MS, LCGC
NSGC Ancestry Expert
Brianne Kirkpatrick is NSGC’s Ancestry expert and can discuss the use of genealogy and DNA testing for exploring family connections and genetic health risks. She can also provide insights into limitations and benefits of at-home genetic tests as well as special considerations and motivations for genetic testing by groups, such adoptees and donor conceived persons. She is an expert in issues related to incidental findings, ethical issues and the use of “raw data” from consumer genetic tests.
In addition to her work with NSGC, Kirkpatrick is a founder of Watershed DNA, which offers online support, educational books and courses, and custom consultations for clients with unexpected DNA test results. She is a member of the NSGC Digital Ambassador Program, which engages in promoting the role and value of genetic counselors via social media. She is active in the world of genetic genealogy both personally and professionally and frequently speaks, writes and blogs on the topic.
Brianne attended Indiana University and earned a master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
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Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, LGC
NSGC Cancer Expert
North Memorial Health Cancer Center
Joy Larsen Haidle is NSGC’s Cancer Expert and can discuss hereditary cancer syndromes such as hereditary breast and colon cancer, and is an active public policy advocate for genetic testing. She is experienced in helping patients who have a higher risk for genetic diseases understand genetic testing results, navigate through treatment options, and talk with their family members about their potential risk.
Larsen Haidle is a leader in cancer genetic counseling who has authored several practice guidelines and published articles on topics such as Lynch syndrome, a disease that increases one’s risk for cancers, particularly of the colon and rectum; and juvenile polyposis, a disorder characterized by polyps in the gastrointestinal tract.
A past president of NSGC, Larsen Haidle is a genetic counselor at North Memorial Health Cancer Center in Robbinsdale, Minn. She is a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, the Minnesota Genetic Counselors Association and the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Colorectal Cancers.
Larsen Haidle attended Buena Vista College and earned a master’s degree in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and is a 2012 recipient of NSGC’s leadership award for most outstanding volunteer.
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Amy Sturm, MS, CGC, LGC
NSGC Cardiovascular Genetics Expert
Geisinger Health System, Genomic Medicine Institute, Professor and Director of Cardiovascular Genomic Counseling
Amy Sturm is the 2019 past-president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors' Board of Directors. As NSGC’s Cardiovascular Expert, she can discuss the wide variety of hereditary forms of heart disease, including cardiomyopathies (defect or damage of the heart muscle), arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders), familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol that runs in families), and familial aneurysms (weakening in the artery wall). She has more than 13 years of experience helping patients with a higher risk of genetic heart disease understand their genetic testing results and in talking with family members about their potential risk of disease.
Sturm was co-founder of NSGC’s Cardiovascular Genetics Special Interest Group. In 2008, she co-chaired the NSGC Short Course conference “Taking Heredity to Heart: Cardiovascular Genetics, An Overview.” Sturm has also authored multiple cardiovascular genetics publications. In addition to her expertise in cardiovascular genetics, Sturm is knowledgeable in direct-to-consumer testing and personalized genomic medicine and counseling.
Sturm is a Professor and the Director of Cardiovascular Genomic Counseling at the Geisinger Health System Genomic Medicine Institute. Sturm was also appointed to the ClinGen Cardiovascular Domain Clinical Working Group, which is part of the larger ClinGen initiative funded, in part, by the National Human Genome Research Institute. She also serves as one of two appointed genetic counselor members of the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation’s Medical Education Committee and is on SADS Research Committee and works extensively with the Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation.
Sturm attended the University of Michigan and earned her Master of Science degree in human genetics. She is the recipient of the 2012 Diane Baker Alumni Lecture award from the University of Michigan and was the 2011 recipient of NSGC’s leadership award for Outstanding Volunteer.
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Ana Morales, MS, LGC
NSGC Cardiovascular Genetics and Spanish-Language Expert
Ana Morales is the 2019 President of the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She is a nationally recognized expert on cardiomyopathy, a common condition in which the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood is diminished. As an English and Spanish speaker, Ana has worked to expand access to genetic information in the Spanish-speaking community and is available for interviews with Spanish and English-language media.
Ana works as a Medical Affairs Liaison at Invitae, where she specializes in diagnostic testing across cardiology, neurology, and pediatrics, communicating with clients, coordinating collaborations and publications, providing support for the sales, marketing, and managed care teams, and providing scientific education at conferences and other venues. She also serves on ClinGen’s cardiomyopathy variant and gene curation expert panel.
Her work has appeared in more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, including the seminal manuscript that for the first time showed that DCM gene variants can be found in pregnancy-associated cardiomyopathy.
Ana completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico and a Masters in Genetic Counseling at Brandeis University. She is board-certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and a licensed genetic counselor in Ohio. She has also practiced clinical genetic counseling in Puerto Rico and Miami, providing general genetics and prenatal services to primarily Spanish-speaking populations. While in Miami, she was a guest genetics expert for the Spanish-language morning show Despierta América (Univision), discussing general topics such as the role of medical genetics in healthcare and the importance of family history information.
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Laura Hercher, CGC
NSGC Ethics and Clinical Genetics Expert
Sarah Lawrence College
Laura Hercher teaches, conducts research and writes about the many legal, ethical and social issues in genetics and genomics. She can provide perspective on how these issues affect decisions patients and their doctors make about their healthcare, and about the ethical and clinical implications of rapid advances in the science of genetics.
A genetic counselor since 2001, Hercher is the Director of Student Research at the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College. Her articles and commentary have appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed and popular science publications, including Genome, Wired, Aeon and Scientific American. She is co-founderof the DNA Exchange, a blog for the genetic counseling community, and a regular contributor to Mendelspod.com, where she co-hosts a monthly review of the biggest stories in genomics.
Hercher is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Public Policy Committee, where she led efforts to examine the ethical and social implications of our rapidly improving ability to edit the genome. She was chair of NSGC’s Ethics Advisory Group for four years.
Laura is the host of the podcast, "The Beagle Has Landed".
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Kenny Wong, MS, CGC
NSGC Genetic Technology Expert
Kenny Wong is the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Genetic Technology Expert and can discuss the intersection of genetics and technology, and how advancements such as artificial intelligence and precision medicine contribute to positive patient and provider outcomes. He previously was the host of NSGC’s Genetic Counselors and You podcast.
Wong serves as Chief Product Officer at xCures, where he helps develop innovative products for cancer treatment. Wong is an experienced leader in genetics and product management, previously working at Genzyme Genetics, UCSF Medical Center, Counsyl and GenomeSmart.
Wong attended the University of British Columbia and received his master’s degree in human genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. He is a board-certified genetic counselor.
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Erica Ramos, MS, CGC
NSGC Personalized Medicine Expert
Director and Head of Clinical & Business Development for Geisinger National Precision Heath
Erica Ramos is the 2018 past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Board of Directors. As NSGC’s Personalized Medicine Expert, Ramos can discuss next-generation DNA sequencing technologies such as whole genome and exome sequencing. She also is experienced in analyzing lab samples, answering physicians’ questions about genetic testing and helping them interpret and explain genetic test results to patients.
In addition to her role with NSGC, Ramos is the Head of Clinical & Business Development for Geisinger National Precision Heath. There, she focuses on the development and implementation of strategic partnerships and ventures and transition from research to clinical programs to extend the Geisinger MyCode model nationwide.
Ramos attended Southeast Missouri State University and earned a master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of California-Irvine. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and a licensed genetic counselor in the State of California.
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Trisha Brown, MS, LCGC
NSGC Policy and Nutrition Expert
Trisha Brown is NSGC’s Policy and Nutrition Expert and has more than two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including medical genomics and lab medicine. She can discuss DNA testing for nutrition, the study of pharmacogenetics and policy issues. Brown is also experienced in the commercialization of genomic tests, operations and utilization management.
In addition to her work with NSGC, she is currently the Director of Payer and Field Market Access, Americas for Illumina. Prior to joining Illumina, she has held executive leadership roles at distinguished corporations such as LabCorp and Medco, and the entrepreneurial successes DNA Direct, Fabric Genomics, and BeaconLBS. Through her work, she seeks to bridge business strategy with clinical care expertise and drive positive outcomes for both healthcare consumers and the businesses that serve them.
Trisha attended the University of California, Davis and earned a master’s degree in human genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
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Blair Stevens, MS, CGC
NSGC Prenatal Expert
University of Texas Health Science Center
As the National Society of Genetic Counselors Prenatal Expert, Blair Stevens can discuss counseling patients and their families about their reproductive risks, testing options and test results. She has expertise in the rapidly advancing field of prenatal testing, from prenatal chromosome microarray to cell-free DNA screening. Stevens also has a passion for helping families who carry a pregnancy diagnosed with a genetic condition or developmental difference. As a member of a multi-disciplinary Fetal Center, she helps families understand diagnoses such as spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia and cleft lip and palate and their possible genetic associations.
In addition to seeing patients, Stevens is an Assistant Professor at the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center and has many publications regarding prenatal genetic counseling and testing. Stevens also serves as a thesis chair, clinical supervisor and instructor for the University of Texas Genetic Counseling Program. Her roles with the National Society of Genetic Counselors have included chair of the Prenatal Special Interest Group and chair of the Public Policy Committee.
Stevens attended the University of Kansas and earned her master's degree from the University of Texas Genetic Counseling Program. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
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Jehannine Austin, Ph.D., MSc, CGC, CCGC
NSGC Psychiatric Disorders Expert
University of British Columbia
Jehannine Austin is a past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors Board of Directors. As NSGC’s Psychiatric Disorders Expert, Austin can provide a clinical genetics perspective to help people with psychiatric disorders understand the origins of their illness and improve outcomes for the individuals and their families. She can also speak to working with patients to evaluate genetics, family history and environment to understand mental health and develop management plans. Austin specializes in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and postpartum depression.
In addition to her role with NSGC, Austin is a graduate advisor to students in the Genetic Counseling Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Medical Genetics. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Translational Psychiatric Genomics. Austin’s research led to the development of the first psychiatric genetic counseling service to help people understand the causes and risk of mental illness.
Austin completed her under undergraduate degree at Bath University and a PhD in Neuropsychiatric Genetics at the University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff in the UK before earning a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselors.
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Jason Flanagan, MS, CGC
NSGC Women's Health/Reproductive Health Expert
University of South Dakota
Jason Flanagan is NSGC’s Reproductive Health Expert and one of only several genetic counselors in the country with a focus on infertility genetics. He can discuss preconception and prenatal genetics, such as how genetics affect infertility and miscarriage. He can also talk about the process and ethics surrounding preimplantation genetic testing, which is the testing of embryos implanted through assisted reproduction.
An advocate for genetic counseling, Flanagan in 2009 served on a committee that secured licensure for genetic counselors in South Dakota. He also helped bring preimplantation genetic testing to the region.
Flanagan is a clinical associate professor at the University of South Dakota and also lectures at regional and national conferences on the genetics of reproductive medicine. He is also faculty at the Augustana Sanford Genetic Counseling Program, established in 2016. He attended the University of Wisconsin genetic counseling program and is board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. He was awarded the Sanford Health Employee of the Year in 2012 and the Sanford Health Star Performance award in 2014.
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