A note from the department head

February 23, 2022

Dear Friends and Alumni of GCD,

We seem to have cleared the latest COVID-19 hurdle, the Omicron variant, at least according to the recent wastewater analysis! The campus community navigated this latest wave with minimum disruption, due in part to the effectiveness of vaccines. Indeed, the mRNA vaccine is an inspiring success story for modern research in the biomedical sciences. While the debate has changed from "how to beat the pandemic" to "how to best live with it," we are thankful for the decreasing numbers of positive covid cases and remain hopeful as we navigate the ever-changing new normals. 

The past two years of uncertainty have been challenging, to say the least.  Regardless of the challenges we faced, or those that are still yet to come, our department remains committed to creating an optimal environment in which to work and learn.  We want this environment to feel safe, welcoming, and Inclusive of all. 

Our amazing faculty continue to focus on our students, taking pride in delivering outstanding learning experiences both online and in person.  Looking to our future, our faculty continue to provide research mentorships in our labs, sustaining the pipeline of discovery. Kudos!

It is in this same challenging environment that our staff have risen to the occasion and provided exceptional support to our faculty and students.  Their partnership in our success has been invaluable, and I am deeply grateful for all of your efforts.

And finally, to our alumni, many thanks for your continued interest and support in GCD’s growth, success, and future. Your support is critical to our goals, and has been truly appreciated during these trying times.  As always, please know you are welcome for a visit or further discussion on any topic!

In this newsletter, we again want to share the recent GCD highlights and successes since our last newsletter, including:

  • We welcomed three new faculty recruits to GCD, Drs. Xiao Dong, Maureen Cetera, and Matthew Gill. Their labs are up and running! 
  • Drs. Naomi Courtemanche, Frank Albert went up for promotion to Associate Professors with Tenure. Melissa Gardner went up for promotion to Full Professor.
  • The Genetic Counseling Program renewed its accreditation in the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
  • A special thanks to our DEI committee for keeping us on task to educate ourselves on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. 
  • We are deep in the throes of recruiting up to 4 new faculty hires to bring into the department new technology and scientific expertise that build on our current strengths in development and genomics.
  • Best wishes to Bonnie LeRoy, David Zarkower, Vivian Bardwell and Terri Ritz, as they depart for retirement. We will miss you. Please visit often.


With great appreciation and thanks,