Heather Stoner, '14, Interns at Genesis Genetics Institute

Heather Stoner, '14, at Genesis Genetics Institute in Detroit
Heather Stoner, '14, at Genesis Genetics Institute in Detroit

I have worked at Genesis Genetics Institute in Detroit, MI as a summer intern for the past two summers. It has been an invaluable experience to work with such a still up-and-coming science technique called pre-implantation diagnosis (PGD).

What PGD means is, we create a probe for patients for whichever disease the family might have, such as cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, or Huntington’s disease. A probe means the scientist tests the family’s DNA with different oligonucleotides surrounding the mutation (disease) the family has specifically, and we help determine what oligonucleotides we can use to help figure out what embryos do not have the mutation.

We report that information to the in vitro fertilization clinic and from there they implant the healthy embryos into the patient, and hopefully they will take, and the patient will become pregnant. It is a rewarding experience to help families have babies knowing they are healthy and have eliminated the disease from their family!

It is a very controversial area still, and it is an ethical dilemma. However, the experience I have had has been incredible and I loved every second of it!