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Title: Genetic Counselor (16 minutes)
Producers: Luis Peón-Cassanova and Gary Hochman

“For most people, genetics is a big black hole. They don't understand it, and they come to us with lots of questions. They find out about diseases that run in their family and they want to know what it means for them and their kids?will their children be healthy? We can help answer those questions.”
– Cathy Burson

Cathy Burson PhotoGenetic counselor Cathy Burson investigates diseases caused by genes. One of Cathy's patients is a little boy named Jason, who was diagnosed at birth with a rare genetic disorder called Pompe disease. Jason is one of three children in the United States who is receiving an experimental treatment for the disease. Without the treatment Jason would die.

Cathy meets with Jason in her clinic at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, visits a DNA testing lab, examines chromosomes under a microscope, and shares information about Jason's genetic problem with children at a local school.

Introduction to the Video

Give fishies food. Okay. One, two, three! Woo! Oh!

We all inherit certain things from our parents and the way that we inherit them from our parents is through little things called genes, that basically are kind of like a recipe, that tell our body how to grow and how to function.

Cathy Burson is a mom . . . but she’s also a professional medical specialist. As a mother, she wants what is best for her child. As a professional, she looks out for the welfare of other parents and their children.

Cathy is a genetic counselor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

Working in the field that I do, you see so much stuff that can go wrong that you forget that 97 percent of the time people walk around perfectly healthy and nothing ever happens.

But when things do go wrong, Cathy Burson is there to help. Part scientist and detective, part teacher and friend, Cathy investigates genetic diseases and helps families cope with them.

Sometimes the disease is rare and hard to understand. Most of Cathy’s patients are young children whose parents are concerned about their health and future.

I always think genetics is kind of like detective work. And so we’re basically like medical detectives trying to figure out exactly what the answers to the puzzle are.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9909496.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).