Category Archives: movies of merit

A New Meaning for Pink & Blue ((BY OLIVIA))

Looking for something to do this Sunday? A new documentary called Pink&Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer will be showing across the country this weekend. If you are interested in inherited cancer syndromes and the patient experience  you should definitely check this out.  This film aims to redefine inherited breast cancer as a problem that affects women AND men  (a constant soapbox issue for yours truly).  The knowledge that BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations  can affect males by increasing the risk for certain cancers (namely male breast and prostate) is an important counseling point for genetic counselors.  Check out the trailer below and click here to see if there is a movie screening near you this weekend! Hopefully the showings will continue into next year.



Francis Crick Interview (1993)

Thinking in a scientific way is not necessarily a natural way, it just happens to be a very effective way.  It’s not even very effective for one person, it must be groups of people.  Otherwise you get trapped in your own errors…One person is fallible.


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15-year-old Invents New Method of Diagnosing Cancer #PancreaticCancerResearch

Instead of taking ‘duck-face’ pictures of yourself online…or posting food on Instagram…you could be changing the world.

The following video is an immensely inspiring story about a 15-year-old’s quest in cancer research.  This is especially pertinent as he is investigating early detection of pancreatic cancer — a notoriously sneaky cancer that is often found too late due to few or non-overt symptoms.

Pancreatic cancer is also linked to BRCA1/2 gene mutations associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome.  While the HBOC risk for pancreatic cancer is increased above that of the general population, it is often disheartening to admit to patients that we are not that great at detection with our current science.

Some will also remember that Carnegie Mellon professor, Randy Pausch, lost his battle to pancreatic cancer.  He is the speaker/author of the inspirational Last Lecture.


COMING UP NEXT MONTH: A guest post from a first-year classmate of mine regarding tips & tricks for interviewing with genetic counseling programs.  Many of our “m&g fans” have requested that we discuss How to Get In to Programs ….well, we hear you!

Happy New Year from M&G! How to Live Forever in 2013 and Other Medical Break-Throughs.

This is another info-graphic that we certainly cannot take credit for, but it seems like a fun way to ring in the New Year!  We wrote earlier about Living Forever, which is always a fun science-fiction topic that tip-toes towards real life application.

Living Forever.

Living Forever.

Also from the World Wide Web, we bring you “Medical Innovations in the Next 10-20 Years.”  They discuss the developments in tissue regeneration and bionics (replacement eyeballs with 20/20 vision!).  To really glimpse into the astounding forefront of regenerative medicine, there is this Ted Talk that delineates where we’re headed.  Amazingly, we’re partly already there:

And what would a post about “The Future of (Genetics) Medicine” be without mention of human cloning.  Rightfully so, the controversy coats the application, however, they predict it could become reality by 2020.  Here, Discovery Channel talks Human Cloning.  I admit I have yet to watch the entire video, but the comments provide a glimpse of the emotionally-charged issue (again, rightfully so):

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Breathing Life into Medical Genetics: Two Films of Merit ((by Olivia))

I’m amazed at how much I have managed to absorb in the last four weeks. Apart from the mounting pile of tests, presentations, and case studies, it feels so good  to have my synapses firing again! Especially when I get to ponder all things genetic counseling all – day – long.

Much of the focus of the coursework has been establishing a base knowledge of features, inheritance patterns, and population frequencies of common genetic conditions. Two that keep coming up again and again are Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The idea is to apply this information to an individual or couple’s pedigree and calculate the likelihood that either of them, or their child might be affected with the condition in question.

As much as I love genetics, I knew nothing more than a vague, one-liner about many of these disorders and I really do not excel at math. If I could go back in time, I would tell my 7th grade self to pay more attentions to fraction/decimal conversions and know those common denominators!

This is why I was excited for the opportunity to view two separate films about three truly inspiring individuals living with genetic conditions.  The first is The Power of Two– a documentary about two Japanese-American women (Ana and Isa) who are identical twins living with CF, which is quite rare in Asian populations. The film was premiering as part of DocuWeeks in NYC, so my classmates and I made an evening out of it and were even able to hear the director speak about the making of the film at the end.

The second film,  Darius Goes West, was part of our orientation week. The film follows a teenager with DMD (Darius) and his friends on their quest from Georgia to California to be featured on MTV’s Pimp My Ride, all the while spreading the word about DMD and accessibility issues for wheelchair users. Darius has a playful personality (complete with rapping ability) and their group pulls plenty of teenage guy antics that makes this feel more like a reality TV than a documentary.

Being able to recall the factual components of these conditions is undoubtedly important, but for our profession, familiarity with the human factor holds equal weight. Both Darius and the twins are unbelievably upbeat and courageous; I felt so in awe of their outlook on life and everything they have accomplished. Prior to starting school, I had never met anyone with an (obvious) genetic condition, so I found both of these films as an inspiring introduction and education, breathing life into the conditions that make up my coursework.

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