Sarah Lawrence College’s Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics is proud to announce its membership in the Alliance to Increase Diversity in Genetic Counseling, a new initiative generously supported by The Warren Alpert Foundation (WAF). Led by The University of Pennsylvania, the grant supports genetic counseling master’s programs at five institutions in the Northeast United States: The University of Pennsylvania, Boston University School of Medicine, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Sarah Lawrence.
Totaling $9.5 million, this WAF grant becomes the most significant award to support genetic counseling education nationwide. The grant is aimed at increasing diversity in the genetic counseling field, which presently has an urgent need for greater representation among practitioners. Sarah Lawrence’s portion of the grant money totals $1.8 million, which will allow the College to provide a scholarship covering full tuition and living expenses for two students from underrepresented backgrounds for each year over the next five years.
“Creating and supporting a community that is diverse and inclusive is a core value of Sarah Lawrence College,” said President Cristle Collins Judd. “This grant will further our goals of fostering real, positive change and furthering equity and inclusion in the field of genetic counseling—a field that Sarah Lawrence created and has continued to develop for more than 50 years. We are delighted to partner in this critical work with Penn Medicine and the Alliance to Increase Diversity in Genetic Counseling with support from the Warren Alpert Foundation.”
Presently, genetic counselors are overwhelmingly white females, who constitute more than 95% of the workforce. “A lack of diverse backgrounds among genetic counselors limits the support and understanding we can offer our clients,” said Claire Davis, co-director of Sarah Lawrence’s genetics program. “This grant allows us to challenge and expand our profession to be inclusive of the many, varied perspectives held by genetic counselors and their patients.”
In announcing the grant, August Schiesser, Executive Director of The Warren Alpert Foundation echoed these sentiments: “Recruiting and training underrepresented individuals in genetic counseling will increase the numbers of professionals in the field, leading to an increase in access to community-based genetic education and genetic counseling services delivered by individuals who reflect different populations.”
Applicants seeking enrollment in the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College for the fall 2022 semester are eligible for the first two scholarships supported by this grant. Learn more about the program and how to apply at sarahlawrence.edu/genetic-counseling.