Speaker Bios

Kevin Davies, Ph.D.

Editor-in-Chief, Bio-IT World magazine
Author of The $1,000 Genome

Kevin Davies is the founding editor of Nature Genetics and the author of The $1,000 Genome. A geneticist by training with degrees from Oxford and London, Davies moved into scientific publishing in 1990, first as an editor with Nature magazine, then as the founding editor of Nature Genetics. He is currently the chief editor of trade magazine Bio-IT World.

Davies is the author of three books on the medical and societal impact of genomics: Breakthrough detailed the race to isolate the BRCA1 breast cancer gene, while Cracking the Genome (2000) was an account of the Human Genome Project. His most recent book, The $1,000 Genome (2010), explores the astonishing advances in personal genomics and next-generation sequencing and their impact on the future of medicine and healthcare. He also served as technical consultant for the upcoming movie Decoding Annie Parker.

Timothy Graubert, M.D.

Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Oncology Division, Stem Cell Biology Section at Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Graubert received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed his clinical training at the Yale School of Medicine before moving to Washington University in St. Louis where he received post-doctoral training with Tim Ley. He then went on to establish his laboratory in 1999 and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Oncology Division, Stem Cell Biology Section.  Dr. Graubert is a member of the Siteman Cancer Center, Director of the Flow Cytometry Core Facility, and an attending on the Leukemia/Stem Cell Transplantation Service at Barnes Hospital.

Dr. Graubert’s research has focused on the molecular pathogenesis of myeloid leukemias. His lab is interested in defining inherited genetic susceptibility factors and somatically acquired mutations important for disease initiation and progression.  Specific diseases of interest to his group include: the myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and MDS/AML arising as a consequence of prior chemotherapy (t-MDS/AML).  Familial MDS/AML syndromes are also an active research focus. Dr. Graubert is a member of the Medical Advisory Board for the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation.

Julie Cohen, ScM, CGC

Genetic Counselor, Kennedy Krieger Institute

Julie Cohen received her Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University-National Human Genome Research Institute genetic counseling training program and currently provides care for patients with a wide range of neurogenetic disorders and developmental disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Laura Hercher, MS, CGC, MA

Faculty, Sarah Lawrence College Joan H. Marks Human Genetics Program

Laura Hercher has been on the faculty at the Sarah Lawrence College Joan H. Marks Human Genetics Program for more than a decade, serving as lecturer and program development coordinator for ethical, legal and social issues.  Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at the Long Island University program in genetic counseling. Ms. Hercher has been chair of the National Society of Genetic Counselors Ethics Advisory Group since 2010.  Her writing and research explore the complexity of integrating genetic technology into our healthcare system and our lives. Ms. Hercher is a founding member of and frequent contributor to the DNA Exchange, a leading weblog for the genetic counseling community

Jessie Conta, MS, LGC

Genetic Counselor, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Jessie Conta is a licensed genetic counselor in the Division of Laboratory Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She received her master’s degree in genetic counseling from Brandeis University in 2004 and recently transitioned to the laboratory after practicing as a pediatric genetic counselor in the Division of Genetic Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital for the past five years. In her current role, she supports the genetics subspecialty labs, including Cytogenetics, Molecular Genetics and Biochemical Genetics and is part of the consulting team that reviews and approves requests for send-out genetic tests.  She is also involved in developing best practice recommendations related to genetic testing, including appropriate pre-test evaluations, sequential testing strategies, pre- and post-test counseling and insurance pre-authorization for genetic tests.

Katie Wright

Co-President, Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN), USA

Katie Wright is a happily married mother of three wonderful children, Jessica 6, Mathew 2 and Ellie 1, residing in Gig Harbor, WA. Immediately following Ellie's birth came the realization that they were faced with some extraordinary challenges. Ellie has an unknown genetic syndrome and is heavily involved with weekly therapists and countless doctor appointments. With a strong motivation for finding answers for her child, Katie started the "Angels for Ellie" campaign to raise over $10,000 to help pay for Ellie to undergo exome sequencing. 

Currently, she is co-president of Syndromes Without a Name (SWAN), USA, a 501(c)3 c non-profit organization devoted to advocating for children and young adults who have syndromes without a name. They offer support, advice and information on the challenges that families face when there is no diagnosis. They also advocate for changes in the medical community that will benefit undiagnosed individuals.

In addition, she formed “Ellie's Project” to further help raise money and awareness for SWAN through community fundraising events and national online social marketing. As the owner of Printing Hope, she gives back a large portion of its proceeds to SWAN and provides other nonprofits with discounted marketing materials. She is also an active blogger chronicling their experiences on loving little Ellie blog. Katie is committed to bringing aid and awareness to the families who are faced with life changing obstacles with no defined reason or answer.

Amy Clugston

Founder, Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN), USA

Amy Clugston and her husband became parents to a special little girl in July of 1996. Her daughter Lorna was born with some physical and developmental challenges that when put together are suggestive of a syndrome; however, a diagnosis for her collection of signs and symptoms have yet to be determined. This would start her journey of being a “stay at home mom” for 14 years. She added two other children into her family, a son Jadon in 2000 and a daughter Cloey in 2004. She is currently working in the office of her husband’s business, JLC Underground.

In the mix of attending doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, being a mom and a wife, Amy went on to found Syndromes Without A Name (SWAN) USA. She initially started out by supporting families through an e-support group and a simple website in 2001 and progressing to becoming a non-profit tax-exempt organization in 2006. The organization is now reaching many families throughout the country and even reaching families around the world.

Megan Truitt, ScM, CGC

Genetic Counselor, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center

Megan Truitt received her Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University-National Human Genome Research Institute genetic counseling training program and currently provides prenatal, pediatric, and adult genetic counseling at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. She also coordinates the Neurofibromatosis Clinic and is the primary clinical rotation supervisor for genetic counseling students.