SCI Spotlight: Brianna Van Den Adel, Genetic Counselor

June 7, 2021 Brianna Van Den Adel, Genetic Counselor

The Hereditary Cancer Clinic is excited to welcome Brianna Van Den Adel to our genetic counseling service. We are especially grateful to have successfully hired a great candidate in the middle of a pandemic! Brianna is a Canadian citizen who graduated from the University of British Columbia genetic counseling program with a Master’s degree in 2020. She then worked as a research coordinator in the department of psychiatry at the university. Her position replaces Robert Resta who retired from genetic counseling in December 2020 after more than 35 years at Swedish. She will be full time at our First Hill campus. Since we are seeing patients virtually, she will see patients from all over the network. Please join us in getting to know more about Brianna.


Q: Why is genetic counseling important?

A: Genetics knowledge is complex, often nuanced, and always changing. Having a designated role to stay up-to-date with this knowledge and effectively communicate it is crucial. It is also directly relevant for preventive medicine — using genetic information wisely allows people to be proactive in their care.


Q: What can I expect when meeting with a genetic counselor?

A: Expect dedicated time and attention to fully understand the concerns you have about your genetic risk, and an educational conversation tailored to your needs. With a genetic counselor, patients can expect to review their personal and family history relevant to the question at hand, discuss the option of pursuing genetic testing, review their test results, and come up with a risk management and family plan if needed.


Q: What is your approach to patient care?

A: I aim to be as patient-centered as possible. I am of the philosophy that patients are the experts of their own needs, and we just give them the tools to make their best decisions.


Q: How has COVID-19 impacted genetic testing and counseling?

A: Similar to other fields, there has been a switch to video genetic counseling. This has been very successful and has been supported by research to be equally as effective as in-person visits. Virtual visits also allow for improved access for rural or under-resourced communities, ultimately saving them considerable costs and time.


Q: How did you become interested in genetics?

A: I have been interested in genetics since I was first introduced to it in high school. I am fascinated by all the things happening at the cellular level beyond our awareness. I then learned of my keen interest in psychology and counseling during my undergraduate degree, and genetic counseling was a natural blend of the two.


Q: What are you most excited about in the field of genetic counseling?

A: I’m excited to be in a profession that emphasizes preventive medicine, and to be living in congruence with the goal of prioritizing proactive health care.


Q: What are your interests outside of work?

A: I like to write lyrics and music on the piano. I have found that sharing my music feels quite vulnerable, and it gives me a greater appreciation for people who do this work. Exercise (running, weightlifting, yoga) is also something I do for my mental health, and balances nicely with my hobby of baking sweets with loads of real vanilla beans.


For questions about the Hereditary Cancer Clinic or to schedule an appointment, call 206-215-4377.

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