MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two of the nation’s leading advocates for the role of genetics in modern nursing will speak at the West Virginia University School of Nursing's genomics and genetics workshop on Friday, Sept. 30.

“The clinical application of genomic information in healthcare occurs when healthcare providers understand the relevance and value of such information to their practice,” Jean Jenkins, Ph.D., senior clinical advisor in the Genomic Healthcare Branch of the National Institute of Health’s National Genome Research Institute, said. “This is the focus of our workshop for nurses at WVU, where we will discuss genomic research advances, implications for nursing competency and future challenges associated with genomic information utilization.”

Since nurses are the first and most accessible line of contact in patient care, genomics education will empower them to make recommendations and answer questions in a way that makes sense to patients. Discoveries related to the standard human genome are now occurring with such frequency that the cost of genetic testing has dropped considerably in the past few years. This has allowed care providers to rule out genetically tied treatment options that could be harmful to a patient with certain genetic markers.

Laurie Badzek, Ph.D., J.D., a WVU School of Nursing professor and director of the American Nurses Association’s Center for Ethics and Human Rights, said there is a real need for getting genomics knowledge to the beside, noting that genetic testing is becoming more routine.

“In pediatrics, with certain drugs and protocols, we are automatically genetic testing,” Dr. Badzek said. “There are drugs that are actually toxic to some children based on genetic makeup. If we give them those therapeutic agents, they can actually be harmful or not effective. Why would we want to give someone a toxic substance if it’s not going to be really helpful?”

Badzek said that as more information about the human genome is understood, the ability to create an individualized treatment plan will be vastly improved.

“In the next decade, we’re going to take all this information that scientists have come up with as far as what someone’s genetic makeup looks like – what is the genomic piece of this person that’s important – and actually translate that into what their care is: what drugs they’re on, what treatments we give them and what susceptibilities they have,” she said.

The genomics and genetics workshop is the highlight of WVU’s Alpha Rho chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing’s Founders’ Day celebration. It will be a day-long event at Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $25, and students will be admitted free of charge. Clinical nurses, nurse educators, healthcare students and healthcare professionals are all encouraged to attend. Registration will be available at the door, space permitting.

In addition to Dr. Jenkins, event speakers will include:
  • Kathleen Calzone, Ph.D., a senior nurse specialist, Research in the Genetics Branch of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute
  • Taura Barr, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the WVU School of Nursing and the WVU Center for Neuroscience
  • Kathy Chen, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the WVU School of Nursing
Those interested in attending should email Susan Pinto at
For more information: Leigh Limerick, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
lal: 09-23-11