AUG 20, 2014 11:45 AM PDT

Genetic Counseling Post-SCOTUS Patent Decision: Fast Forward

  • Founder and CEO, Gene Counsel
      Ellen T. Matloff, M.S., C.G.C., received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Union College, her Master's degree in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University, and her board certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling.  Matloff was the Founder and Director of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at Yale School of Medicine until July 2014 and is the Founder and CEO of Gene Counsel ( Her interests include patient and provider issues in genetic counseling, adverse events in genetic testing and the impact of patents on clinical practice. Ms. Matloff was a lead plantiff in the 2013 Supreme Court case against gene patenting.


    The unanimous Supreme Court ruling of 2013 regarding gene patents made competition for BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing a reality. Within hours of the decision multiple labs began offering more comprehensive BRCA testing at lower prices. Most of these laboratories also offered BRCA1 and 2 on a panel with many genes involved in cancer development. Most of these genes are lesser studied and understood than BRCA1 and 2 and often include variants of uncertain significance. Deciphering if a mutation is clinically relevant, how that patient should be followed, if the genetic finding is actually responsible for the cancers in the family and segregates with disease, and determining whether carrier status is important to the surveillance, chemoprovention and prophylactic surgery recommendations made to the patient has greatly increased the complexity of the field. All of this information will be discussed as well as what we can expect from the field as whole-exome sequencing becomes a clinical reality.

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