Alison Elliott PhD, MSc, CGC

Project Lead

Alison Elliott is a PhD geneticist and board certified genetic counsellor, having obtained her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston and her Master’s in Science in genetic counselling at the University of Cincinnati. Her doctoral and postdoctoral work was at the University of Manitoba on limb malformations. Her research interests include rare disease, skeletal disorders, health implementation science, genomics and genetic counselling. She has worked at McGill University, Cedars Sinai Hospital and was the Program Director of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics for the Provincial Health Authority in Winnipeg, where she established Canada’s most recent MSc training program in Genetic Counselling. She relocated to Vancouver in October 2014 and was the Project Lead for two genomic sequencing initiatives (CAUSES and RAPIDOMICS) and is the current Project Lead for a Genome Canada LSARP grant “GenCOUNSEL – Optimization of Genetic counselling with implementation of genome-wide sequencing.” Alison is a Clinical Associate Professor in Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and an Investigator at the BC Children’s and Women’s Health Research Institutes. In 2018, she was awarded the CAGC Professional Practice, Innovation and Advocacy Leadership national award.

Jehannine Austin PhD, MSc CCGC/CGC

Co-Lead Activity 3

Jehannine Austin is a board certified genetic counselor and UBC Professor of psychiatry and Medical Genetics who holds the Canada Research Chair in Translational Psychiatric Genetics and is Executive Director of the BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Institute. Jehannine founded the world’s first specialist psychiatric genetic counseling clinic which has helped hundreds of BC families and trained >50 clinicians and students from around the world. The clinic won an award for the positive impact it has for patients. Jehannine has >70 peer reviewed publications, and co-authored a book on psychiatric genetic counseling. Her contributions have been recognized with national and international leadership awards, teaching awards, and election as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Science, and member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. She is ex-president of the US-based National Society of Genetic Counselors, and is a board member for the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG).

Shelin Adam MSc, BSc


Shelin is a clinical assistant professor and research genetic counsellor with a BSc in Genetics and a MSc in Genetic Counselling, both from McGill University. She is interested in the application of new genetic and genomic technology. More specifically, she is interested in understanding the best ways to provide education, decision support and genetic counselling to families being offered genomic sequencing. Another area of her research is helping clinicians to understand genomic testing and its implications. Shelin has most recently been involved with the CAUSES Clinic research study at BC Children's Hospital which provided genome-wide sequencing for children and their parents who have complex disorders and are unable to obtain a diagnosis by standard testing.

Patricia Birch MSc RN, BSc


Patricia Birch is a researcher, educator, manager, and nurse. Common threads throughout her career are patient and family advocacy and an interest in the dynamics between consumers and providers of health care.  As an Arctic nurse practitioner, she wrote a position statement on primary care nursing in Nunavut.  At UBC, her research evolved into exploring the complex challenges of supporting families’ decision-making surrounding genome-wide sequencing, including co-developing an interactive decision-aid to support such decisions. Other GE3LS studies include measuring shared decision-making in genetic counselling, and the first Canadian assessment of the financial costs to families of caring for a child with exceptional needs.



Dr Jan Friedman is a clinical geneticist and Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia.  His research focuses on clinical applications of genomic technology, birth defects epidemiology and clinical teratology, and clinical studies of neurofibromatosis. In addition, he has made significant contributions to national and international guidelines and standards of care for the clinical use of Genome Wide Sequencing.  In this study, he leads a team to study the best ways of supporting families’ decision-making through knowledge translation of DECIDE (Decision aid and E-Counselling for Inherited Disorder Evaluation). 

Debby Lambert Msc


Debby is a genetic counsellor, registered in Europe and Canada, and has an MSc in Epidemiology and Biostatistics.  After 20 years of clinical genetic counselling, she now works in Ireland’s Rare Diseases government information hub as an Information Scientist and Orphanet Ireland Project Manager at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.  Debby is also the chair of the European Board of Medical Genetics Branch Board for Genetic Counsellors and Nurses. Her research interests are rare and genetic diseases in populations, and genetic counselling practice. She is a GenCOUNSEL co-investigator, providing international input to activity 4. 

Lorne Clarke FCCMG, MDCM, FRCPC, BSc


Dr. Lorne Clarke is a professor of medical genetics at the University of British Columbia, Canada and is a clinical and biochemical geneticist in the Provincial Medical Genetics Program for the Province of British Columbia. He served as medical director of the provincial program for 5 years. He received his initial training in biochemistry and medicine at McGill University and is certified in paediatrics, clinical genetics and biochemical genetics. He has been active in fundamental research for over 20 years studying the basic pathophysiology of lysosomal storage disease with particular interest in biomarkers of disease and murine models. His group was the first to develop a mouse model of MPS I and recently has produced mouse models of Gaucher disease. In addition to basic science, Dr. Clarke’s group is also actively participates in clinical trials involving lysosomal storage diseases as well as other rare genetic disorders.

Wyeth Wasserman Vice-President Research, BC Children’s Hospital, PhD


Wyeth Wasserman is the Executive Director at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Medicine, a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics and a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Wasserman’s research focuses on projects with applied biomedical impacts. His computational biology laboratory develops computer algorithms for the analysis of human DNA sequences. His lab provides international leadership in the identification and engineered design of DNA sequences that control when and where in the body each gene is active – the On and Off switches. With the arrival of low cost DNA sequencing for patients, his team works closely with clinicians at BC Children’s Hospital to discover the genetic causes impacting patients and families. With undergraduate degrees in mathematics and molecular cell biology from the University of Washington and a PhD in oncology from the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Wasserman brings a quantitative perspective to genetics research.  He has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and supervised more than 60 graduate and post-doctoral trainees.

Tasha Wainstein MSc, BSc

Graduate Student (PhD)

Tasha Wainstein is a genetic counsellor originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. She recently began working as a research assistant in the GenCOUNSEL team and will be starting her doctoral studies in September 2019 at the University of British Columbia.

Peter Grant MPhil

Graduate Student (MSc)

Peter is a graduate student from the UK, currently enrolled on the UBC Medical Genetics MSc program. Prior to arriving in BC, Peter studied Cancer and Genetics at Cardiff University, working to develop a short-form of the Genetic Counselling Outcome Scale (GCOS-24), and intellectual property at Bournemouth University, completing the UK CIPA foundation exams. As part of the Elliott lab, Peter will be researching patient self-pay in the context of genetic and genomic testing, and the policies surrounding the matter.

Prescilla Carrion MSc

Research Genetic Counsellor

Prescilla is a Canadian and American board-certified genetic counsellor and clinical associate professor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry. Prescilla trained in psychiatric genetic counselling with Dr. Jehannine Austin as a senior research genetic counsellor in the Translational Psychiatrics Group. Through her work with the UBC Institute of Mental Health Centre for Care and Research, she has been the first to provide psychiatric genetic counselling while embedded as part of a specialized treatment program for inpatients with treatment resistant psychosis and their families.  The impact she has made through psychiatric genetic counselling has been acknowledged within a published, family member written essay nominating her for the National Society of Genetic Counseling Code Talker Award in 2018. Prescilla has been enthused to join GenCOUNSEL within the first of its kind role as a genetic counsellor integrated within a primary care clinic, the Victoria Cool Aid Community Health Centre.

Caitlin Slomp, MSc

Research Genetic Counsellor

Caitlin is a genetic counsellor and Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC, with a BSc in Molecular Genetics from the University of Alberta and a MSc in Genetic Counselling from UBC. She works with the Translational Psychiatric Genetics Group conducting research related to genetics, mental illness and outcomes of psychiatric genetic counselling, and runs a longitudinal cohort study on children’s mental health. As a part of the GenCOUNSEL project, she is conducting qualitative research exploring the process of integrating genetic counselling into primary care practice.

Rhea Beauchesne

Research Assistant (Co-op term)

Rhea is a current Undergraduate student at UBC studying Integrated Sciences in Neuroscience and Genetics. She is interested in the research and practice of genetic counselling and biomedical ethics. As part of her Co-op experience, Rhea works in the Elliot lab as a research assistant for Activity 3 helping to implement DECIDE, a decision-aid tool helping families make informed decisions about genome sequencing.