Developing new career paths in genomics
Dr Amy Nisselle, Senior Honorary Fellow in the Department of Paediatrics, is Genomics Workforce Lead for the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance, of which the University of Melbourne is a member. She is also based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Amy is a science communicator, project manager and researcher with a doctorate in multimedia genetics education and evaluation.
With the recent launch of a new slate of activities aimed at developing a genomics-ready workforce, we asked Amy a few questions about herself and this work.
Why is developing a workforce skilled in genomics so important?
Both local and international studies have proven how genomics can provide answers, change treatment and save lives. But we need a skilled workforce to provide genomic medicine.
Each genomic test requires a team of skilled professionals. We need more doctors who are confident in identifying when genomic testing is needed, in explaining the test to patients, including implications for themselves and their family, and using test results to inform patient care.
We also need more diagnostic professionals – medical scientists and pathologists – with the skills to analyse genomic data and report results. Data scientists are also vital to this step. A single genomic test generates massive amounts of data. Data scientists develop ways to process and interpret this data accurately and efficiently, so changes in patients’ genes can be found and their significance for patient care determined.
We’ll be working to ensure Victorian professionals in all of these areas have opportunities – now and into the future – to develop the skills needed to work together to deliver genomic medicine.
What are you working on now?
We’re at the beginning of a four-year program, so we are building on our earlier work to equip current and emerging clinical, diagnostic and data science professionals in genomics. The work will include developing new educational resources, continuing professional development courses and workplace learning opportunities, as well as contributing to University graduate offerings.
Melbourne Genomics has been supporting the development of genomic subjects at The University of Melbourne, including a discovery subject for medical students and core subjects in the Master of Genomics and Health and Master of Genetic Counselling.
What opportunities are available?
Since Melbourne Genomics began in 2014, we’ve held dozens of face-to-face and online workshops and courses in both clinical and diagnostic genomics. We launched our new program with an online workshop in June on the use of genomics in paediatric oncology, followed by a webinar in August for paediatricians on MBS-funded genomic testing. Genomics laboratory staff are also currently learning from our suite of online modules. We’re always working on something new!
You can follow us on Twitter for the latest opportunities and subscribe to our newsletter. Our educational website, learn-genomics.org.au, also provides great introductory learning and links to other resources.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Oh, that’s hard. Maybe that I house-sat for James Watson (of Watson and Crick fame) when I worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York? I love to travel, and pre-COVID had visited 49 countries. I’ve only got a few things left on my bucket list but they may take a while to get to…