Sen. Lincoln, UAMS Spearhead Mid-America Genetic Counseling Consortium

By todd

The Congress appropriated $1.3 million for the first year to the Mid-America Genetic Distance Education Consortium, which will prepare counselors to help physicians and patients use genetic information in managing a wide variety of medical problems. Details for applicants will be available at

Graduates of the four programs will provide a vital service counseling patients who have or may have disorders or diseases of genetic origin, such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, schizophrenia, and other chronic and life-threatening conditions.

“As we develop greater knowledge about the role of genetic conditions in health care, it’s critical that we develop a network of trained professionals to help guide decision-making by doctors and patients,” Lincoln said. “I’m pleased to have sponsored this measure in the Senate, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and with the professionals at UAMS to make this program a success.” Lincoln, who worked with Senate colleagues in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, said she looks forward to collaborating again for additional funding for the consortium.

UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., called the genetic counseling program “another example of how UAMS works to anticipate and solve health care needs.”

UAMS, Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City will use the Internet and interactive video conferences to link graduate students and faculty members at the four institutions. Becky Butler, who has worked in distance education and genetic counseling at UAMS for a decade, is coordinator of the four-university consortium.

The UAMS College of Health Related Professions will launch its master of science in genetic counseling program in September 2004 or January 2005. Shannon Barringer is the interim chairman of the college’s new Department of Genetic Counseling and director of the degree program. Applicants should have bachelor of science degrees in nursing, biology, chemistry, psychology, or a related field. The two-year program will involve clinical rotations in cancer and specialty clinics for other diseases and conditions.