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Genetic Counselors

Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with unique specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of both medical genetics and counseling.

Genetic counselors work as members of a healthcare team, providing risk assessment, education and support to individuals and families as they navigate genetic testing options or their risk for inherited conditions. Genetic counselors also interpret genetic test results, provide supportive counseling, and serve as patient advocates.

When would I speak with a genetic counselor?

You may speak with one of our genetic counselors for one of the following indications:

  • To review the option of preimplantation genetic testing in an IVF cycle
  • To discuss questions about genetic risk based on personal and family medical history
  • To review donor family history and genetic screening results, if you would like to match with a donor

You may speak with a genetic counselor once or over time based on indication and treatment plan.

What does a genetic counseling consult entail?

At CRH, the most typical indication for a genetic counseling consult is to review the option of preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). You may discuss with your physician about whether PGT would be appropriate or of potential benefit to you in an IVF cycle. Some reasons a person or couple may consider the addition of PGT to their treatment plan are listed below:

  • Maternal age
  • Recurrent pregnancy loss
  • Balanced chromosome translocation
  • Genetic condition in a parent or close relative
  • Carrier status of the same genetic condition in both parents
  • Family balancing/sex selection

During the consult, the genetic counselor will complete a thorough review of the PGT option(s) that are applicable for you. The genetic counselor will collect your family health history and discuss a risk assessment based on the information you share.

What if I have other questions?

If you would like more information about whether a genetic counseling consult may be appropriate or of benefit to you, please discuss this with your physician. If you have a specific question for our genetic counselors, you may contact them by writing to the “Genetics” team in the CRH patient portal.

Our Team

Molly Dunn: Molly Dunn, M. S., LCGC has been a practicing genetic counselor since 2003 after completing her graduate program at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.  She has been board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling since 2005 and is licensed in the state of California.

Molly has worked in reproductive genetics for most of her career, providing genetic counseling for preimplantation genetic testing, prenatal diagnosis as well as genetic risk assessment for potential gamete donors. She also worked in Pediatric/Adult Genetics at UC Davis and spent five years as the Genetic Counselor Coordinator at the California Newborn Screening Program. 

Molly also has experience mentoring genetic counseling students and teaching medical students at UCSF.  In 2018, she co-authored a paper on the decision-making surrounding the use of preimplantation genetic testing.  

Molly stays current in the field of genetics and strives to help individuals integrate complex genetic information into their reproductive journeys in the ever evolving field of assisted reproduction.

Natalie Spivak: Natalie Spivak, MS, LCGC, is a genetic counselor with ten years of experience in direct patient care. Natalie holds a master’s degree in genetic counseling from Brandeis University and has practiced in several clinical specialties. Natalie has previously worked at Kaiser and Invitae before returning to UCSF, where she had started her career. Natalie values her role as a genetic counselor and the conversations she gets to have with patients. She is passionate about making complex information accessible so that people can make the best medical decisions for themselves and support patients as they are going through what may be a difficult time in their lives. Natalie enjoys genetics education and working with genetic counseling students when possible. 

Outside of work, Natalie likes being out in nature on a hike or camping trip and cooking and eating with friends and family.