Division of Clinical Genetics
As awareness and availability of genetic testing increases, the research conducted by trained geneticists and certified genetic counselors becomes even more important. The Division of Clinical Genetics offers a variety of clinical research studies and provides comprehensive prenatal diagnostic and screening programs for a variety of genetic disorders, cancer genetic counseling and testing and genetic evaluation, counseling and testing for high-risk families associated with recurrent pregnancy loss, congenital malformations and/or intellectual disability.
About Our Work
A variety of inter-disciplinary educational opportunities exist at all levels within our division, affording scholars the opportunity to learn about various issues surrounding research and clinical treatment of conditions related to prenatal and cancer genetics. Six- to eight-week rotations are offered to fourth-year medical students from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and other institutions, and we partner closely with the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling. Rotations are also provided to third-year Obstetrics & Gynecology and fourth-year Pathology residents. First- and second-year fellows in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship program develop educational programs that dovetail with the activities of the Division of Clinical Genetics.
Faculty and staff members of the Division of Clinical Genetics conduct both clinical and basic research on new approaches to prenatal diagnosis and cancer genetics.
- Genetic Analysis of Fetal Cells in Maternal Blood
A series of techniques are being developed to differentiate fetal cells from maternal cells, isolate single fetal cells and conduct complete chromosome analysis as well as DNA analysis for single gene mutations.
- New Maternal Serum Markers
Division investigators are testing a relatively new maternal serum marker to identify chromosomally abnormal pregnancies.
- Amnioinfusion in Cases of Oligohydramnios
Another study being developed is one to determine the safety and efficacy of amnioinfusion in pregnancies associated with oligohydramnios. The goal is to determine if amnioinfusion is useful in pregnancies characteristically associated with adverse outcome by providing diagnosis, therapy and genetic counseling concerning etiology and recurrent risks.
- In Utero Magnetic Resonance Imaging
With the Department of Radiology, division investigators are developing a study to determine the efficacy of MRI in the prenatal diagnosis of structural abnormalities in the central nervous system.
- Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Role of FISH in Improving Clinical Pregnancy Rate
In this study, fluorescent in situ hybridization probes for chromosomes X, Y, 13, 16, 18, 21 and 22 will be applied to both polar bodies and single blastomeres to determine whether pregnancy rates can be improved for women over and under 35 years of age.
- Working Group on Internet-Mediated Genetic Counseling and Information Services
This interdisciplinary group is developing and conducting internet-based clinical genetic and information services. In addition, the group is studying the ethical and legal implications of internet-mediated genetic services and their impact on the practice of clinical genetics and genetic counseling. This group is composed of practitioners and scholars drawn from various disciplines including clinical genetics, genetic counseling, adult education, library and information sciences and law.
The Division of Clinical Genetics conducts active programs in prenatal genetic diagnosis and cancer genetics. We partner closely with the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine to provide ongoing clinical care for women with high-risk pregnancies. Additionally, we maintain an ongoing collaboration with the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and the Department of Pathology for clinical care and research into the early detection of gynecologic cancer through our Northwestern Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program.