Women’s History Month Q&A with Michelle Ning

It is Women’s History Month, which celebrates the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. To mark the occasion, we are featuring some of our female employees at Sema4. In our third Q&A of this series, Michelle Ning, a Genetic Counselor based in our Branford lab, discusses advocating for patients and their families, and why her grandmother inspired her to be a woman of science. Read our previous installments of this series by clicking here and here.

Michelle Ning1. What is your role at Sema4?

As a Lab Genetic Counselor (GC), I wear a lot of different hats, which makes it a particularly rewarding role. I help patients understand the genetic testing process and what it means for them and their families, while also guiding healthcare providers on what our test options are and how the results may impact their patients. I develop comprehensible educational materials, as well as consent forms. In the lab, I review hereditary cancer genetic test orders to ensure they are a good fit for the patient based on their individual and family medical history.

2. What motivates you to work at Sema4?

Sema4 cares about the patient experience. This very much aligns with my philosophy and background. I started my career in the clinic and have always advocated for patients and their families. I am proud to still be able to provide this advocacy as part of my role at Sema4.

3. Can you tell us about a female role model who has inspired you?

My grandmother inspired me to be a woman of science. She was a physicist in a generation when female scientists were uncommon and often discouraged. She held a leadership role for a large part of her career, raised two sons, and lived through political unrest in Asia. It was incredible that she achieved as much as she was able to.

4. What advice would you give to other women who want to get into this industry?

My advice to anyone who wants to become a GC is to network with current GCs, learn about the history and potential future of the profession, and to understand how your unique experience may be valuable. Women are already well represented in the GC profession, but there is still an opportunity for improved diversity. I’m very passionate about the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ diversity initiatives, which aims to bridge this gap.

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