International Society
of Nurses in Genetics

Dedicated to fostering the scientific and professional growth of nurses in human genetics and genomics worldwide.
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meet our members 

Congratulations to Katherine Maki

Congratulations to Katherine Maki for her recent ISONG Research Grant Award for her research: “Cardiovascular and Gut Microbiome Response to Sleep Fragmentation in Rats."  Katherine Maki is a fourth year PhD student at the University of Illinois (UIC) at Chicago. She received her Master of Science degree from the UIC and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Marquette University. She is a Jonas Veterans Health Scholar with an anticipated graduation date of December 2019. The long-term goal of Ms. Maki’s program of research is to understand mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease in patients with disrupted sleep (from shift work, obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders) to develop targeted interventions in this population.

Ms. Maki was selected for the 2017 National Institute of Nursing Research’s Summer Genetic Institute and received a scholarship to attend the 2018 Summer Institutes in Statistical Genetics. Her clinical and research experiences have resulted in five publications; four of which she has been first author.

As a cardiovascular nurse and electrophysiology nurse practitioner for nine years, she has extensive clinical experience with cardiac patients. Ms. Maki served as the primary investigator on a study measuring blood flow changes after cardiac catheterization through the radial artery. She is currently a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Anne Fink (UIC Lab for Sleep Neurobiology) where she works on preclinical studies examining sleep disorders and the cardiovascular system and how neuronal networks in the brain can regulate these cardiovascular processes. Ms. Maki’s dissertation will focus on cardiovascular responses to sleep disruption in a rodent model. She will focus on the gut microbiome as a potential mediator in sleep and cardiovascular pathology.

ISONG/ASHG Collaborative Educational Initiative by Virginia Conley, Beth Pestka, and Nicole Osier

In 2017, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) contacted ISONG about working on a collaborative educational project for nurses working in non-genetics specialties focused on integrating genetics and genomics into clinical practice. After considerable discussion, the decision was made to develop and present a preconference session which was accepted for the American Psychiatric Nurses Association’s annual conference.

Beth Pestka, Virginia Conley and Nicole Osier from ISONG, and Karen Hansen from ASHG, prepared slides for the two-hour presentation, "Integrating Psychiatric Pharmacogenomics Into Clinical Nursing Practice," which was then presented by Beth and Virginia on October 24, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. The session resulted in many excellent questions and feedback from the participants. As a follow-up to the live presentation, a narrated set of slides is being prepared as an educational resource for ISONG.

Sandra Daack-Hirsch, PhD, RN
Becky Kronk, PhD, MSN, CRNP Jennifer Sanner Beauchamp, PhD, RN

Congratulations to Sandra Daack-Hirsch, Becky Kronk and Jennifer Sanner Beauchamp on their recent award of an honorary fellowship by the American Academy of Nursing. Each year, by awarding honorary fellowship, the Academy recognizes individuals in honor of their extraordinary contributions to nursing and health.

The Academy is currently comprised of more than 2,500 nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy, and research. Academy fellows include hospital and government administrators, college deans, and renowned scientific researchers. The Academy fellows represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 29 countries.

Invitation to fellowship is more than recognition of one's accomplishments within the nursing profession. Academy fellows also have a responsibility to contribute their time and energies to the Academy, and to engage with other health leaders outside the Academy in transforming America's health system ... Click here for the complete announcement. 

Eugenia Millender, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, CDE
Bridging the Gap of Health Disparities across Borders

As one of the few indigenous Afro-Caribbean Latina doctorally prepared nurse scientist fluent in Spanish, Dr. Eugenia Millender’s career in health has been dedicated to increasing access to quality care, decreasing health and mental disparities, and providing a culturally humble environment for patients, staff, faculty, and students.

Armed with deep community connections, and extensive clinical experience, she is able to not only provide quality care locally but also bridge the gap of health disparities across state and international borders. Her areas of expertise and research focus on mood disorders, stress and trauma and how they are often expressed through mental illness disparities, transgenerational genetic effects, and/or substance abuse among minority and underserved groups.

Bobbi Laing, PhD, RN

Dr. Laing is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland in New Zealand (NZ) and is an emerging expert in nutrigenomics and health promotion. Dr. Laing recently completed her PhD thesis entitled ‘Key genotypes and the response to nutrient supplementation in Chron’s disease' and is the project manager for two collaborative research projects at the University of Auckland. 

Prior to her current position, Dr. Laing held a variety of impressive community-centered positions that have informed her goals as a nurse researcher. Dr. Laing was recruited to ISONG in 2017 by Dr. Gigi Lim. Dr. Laing is an important member of our community and very actively involved in the initiatives of the Global Membership Committee. Dr. Laing and Dr. Lim are currently collaborating to develop a research project assessing gaps in nurses’ knowledge of genomics. Their overarching goal is to develop an appropriate curriculum that can be built into the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland to enable nurses to effectively apply genomic knowledge to their clinical practice and improve patient health outcomes. Thank you, Dr. Laing, for your hard work and commitment to ISONG and the promotion of nursing science around the world. 

Jessica Anderson, APRN, WHNP, AGN-BC

My story begins in 1986. My mother was 31 years old. She was married with two small girls, 8 and 4 years old. She found a lump in her breast….but 31 year olds don’t get cancer. It must be benign. She was told to watch it for a few months to see if it “goes away.” Two months later she returned to her doctor and pressed for further evaluation. A mammogram lead her to biopsy where she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31. She was treated with a radical left breast mastectomy and removal of 19 lymph nodes. All nodes were negative. She came home to her young family with a scar and staples where her left breast had been.

Fast forward four years, my mother, now 35 years old, has 11 and 7 year old daughters. Life is busy. She is a math teacher and volleyball coach. We live at the gym. Her teams of girls are my idols. I get off the bus every day at volleyball practice where I shag balls, toss for drills, and work on my own developing skills. Read more

Carolyn Allen, DNP, CRNP-F, MS-Genetics

I graduated from GWU in 2010 from the Family Nurse Practitioner program. This is my third career change, or should I say transition. I was a genetic counselor for a few years before going to nursing school. After completing my BSN, I worked in hospital settings for medical/surgical, psychiatrics, and pulmonary for a few years. As soon as an opportunity availed itself, I finally came back to maternal child health. The bulk of my nursing career (15 years) was in-patient obstetrics. My long term vision had been to combine the advanced practice nursing career with the genetics component and be a nurse educator in a university hospital setting.

On a personal note I was born and raised in the District of Columbia. I am married to my high school "friend" and we have four children ranging ages 25 to 15 years old. We live in the suburbs of Maryland (just minutes away from Washington, D.C). I presently work as an independent contractor in a variety of settings: ob/gyn office, urgent care, and veteran's disability claims. I graduated with my doctorate in May 2015 in Nursing Education and additionally I have completed DNP courses in the palliative care tract. I have completed courses in the nursing education tract of the George Washington University DNP program to better prepare myself with teaching methodology and design, curriculum theory, and understand adult learning theory. 

My experience in perinatal loss as a nurse impacted me on many levels. Some of the infants had genetic conditions or birth defects thus I felt uniquely capable of caring for the families. My thoughts were that what I learn in alleviating pain and suffering can be translated to any setting.

The best feature of nursing education and other health related professions is that it not only impacts that individual, but everyone with whom they come in contact (e.g. pyramid affect). 

Sylvia S. Estrada, DNP, MSN, MSHCM, WHNP-BC, CBCN

Ms. Estrada is the Clinical Program Coordinator at the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She is nationally certified as a: Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner; Certified Breast Care Nurse; and Certified Clinical Research Professional. Her current clinical care and research interests involve the screening of women who are at high risk for breast cancer and providing genetic counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.   

Recently, Sylvia joined the American Cancer Society San Gabriel Leadership Council  which is a community-based volunteer leadership group that supports the Society’s efforts to save more lives from cancer by increasing donations, serving patients facing cancer, and promoting cancer prevention and early detection guidelines in the 47 communities that make up the San Gabriel Valley.

Ms. Estrada received her nursing degree from Los Angeles County /University of Southern California (LAC/USC) School of Nursing and her Bachelor's in Nursing from California State University, Los Angeles. She earned a Master's degree in Healthcare Management from California State University, Los Angeles and a Master's degree in Nursing from California State University, Long Beach. She received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. 

Ms. Estrada demonstrates a strong commitment to her volunteer work both locally and internationally.  She is the past President for the California Association for Nurse Practitioners (CANP) for the Greater Pasadena Chapter, Newsletter Editor and Legislative Representative for the Greater Los Angeles Oncology Nursing Society, member of the San Gabriel Valley Leadership Council for the American Cancer Society and QIC member for the Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles.  Internationally, she provides service and medical care to the underserved populations across Central American countries, travelling abroad annually to address, deliver and manage gynecological and obstetric health care needs of impoverished women.  

Karlene Brantley Coleman, BSN, MN

Karlene is a Nurse/Certified Genetic Counselor at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. After completing her undergraduate programs at the School of Nursing, Medical College of Georgia, she went on to graduate school at Emory University. Karlene became interested in the field of "Genetics Nursing" during her time at Emory when she took a genetics course while completing her Master of Nursing in 1975.

Since 1982, Karlene has been a certified genetic counselor and beginning in 2006 she has been the course coordinator for the genetics courses on the graduate and undergraduate levels at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. In February of 2015, she attained the Advanced Genetics Nursing, AGN-BC. In addition to these accomplishments, Karlene is an author or co-author on numerous peer reviewed articles.

She is a member of four distinct professional groups: American Society of Human Genetics, American College of Medical Genetics, International Society of Nurses in Genetics, and International 22q11.2 Society, where she is a founding member.

Currently, Karlene is a part of the International 22q11.2 Deletion Research Consortium and is on a Williams syndrome research project. Additionally, she is working on a new project looking for autism features in 22q11.2 deletion patients and their cardiac, calcium, and immune profiles.

Karlene loves learning new things and is motivated to help families with chronic genetic diseases seek resources. She created a video to help teach nursing and medical students about Cystic Fibrosis and what the families face after leaving the clinical setting. It is available on and is open access meaning that anyone can use it. Click here to view the video.

She enjoys seeing how active nurses are in genetics and thinks the annual conference is a great resource as are the webinars. Karlene takes great pride in her profession as a nurse and genetic counselor and has the desire to help her patients. Her greatest satisfaction is teaching nursing students about genetics because it is the future of medicine.

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