The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

The Genetic Landscape: Insights and Advice for Aspiring Physician Geneticists

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr Dallas Reed, the Division Chief of Genetics and Director of Perinatal Genetics at Tufts Medical Center. They discuss all you need to know about genetics and becoming a geneticist, why health equity is important in medicine, and the future of genetic research. 

  • [00:00] Introducing Dr. Dallas Reed
  • [01:22] Why Dr. Reed Chose to Pursue Medical Genetics
  • [06:24] Career Pathways in the Field of Genetics
  • [08:20] The Three Types of Genetic Laboratories
  • [11:40] Advice for Students Interested in Genetics
  • [13:32] Health Equity and Why It’s Important
  • [16:31] The Genetics of Cancer
  • [18:01] Why We Need More Community Partnerships For Genetic Research
  • [19:20] What Dr. Reed Would Change About Healthcare
  • [23:00] Navigating the Politics of Medicine
  • [25:50] Parting Thoughts

How Dr. Reed Became a Geneticist

Dr. Reed’s journey into genetics began with a deeply personal experience within her own family. Her brother was born prematurely with a life-threatening chromosomal abnormality. He died at four months, and this event, though marked by tragedy, became the catalyst for Dr. Reed’s lifelong commitment to genetics. Inspired by a desire to understand and help families facing similar situations, she embarked on a journey to become a geneticist–one of only ten black medical geneticists in the country.

How to Build a Career in Genetics

Would you like a career in the field of genetics? A geneticist is a specialist who studies genetic traits in biological systems in plants, animals, and humans. According to Dr. Reed, there are endless opportunities available in this field, from research and laboratory roles to patient-facing positions. Dr. Reed encourages students to explore combined residency and fellowship programs, tailoring their journey to their specific interests. Practical strategies, including reaching out to professionals, leveraging social networks, and exploring internship programs, are keys to navigating the exciting world of genetics. 

The Case for Health Equity in Genetics

Dr. Reed is a strong advocate for health equity in genetics. She addresses the technical challenges patients of non-Caucasian backgrounds face, particularly in interpreting genetic test results. By bringing attention to the need for a diversified reference genome, Dr. Reed aims to eliminate uncertainties that may arise due to genetic variations specific to certain ethnicities.

Additionally, Dr. Reed underscores the importance of standard practices in cancer genetics, advocating for equal access to genetic testing and referrals for all cancer patients, regardless of their racial or ethnic background. Her commitment to building trust between researchers and communities echoes a broader call for inclusivity and outreach efforts. 

You can reach Dr. Reed on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Email for more details about her work. 

Mentioned in This Episode:

  • Genetics training programs:

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Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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