Cancer Genetic Counseling director helps people understand disease risk and what they can do about it
'It is really important to have educated and compassionate counselors who can help you understand how cancer can run in families,' says Mariana Niell-Swiller
UCLA Health’s new director of Cancer Genetic Counseling, Mariana Niell-Swiller, first became interested in her future career when she graduated from college and started working in a genetics diagnostic lab. Niell-Swiller had studied biology, not quite knowing how she would use her degree. But right after college, while working as a lab tech, something piqued Niell-Swiller’s interest. She wondered what happened to those genetic test results after the laboratory reported them out.
Fortunately for her, she was able to find out firsthand. As it turns out, the physician who ran the laboratory also ran a clinic for neurogenetic diseases. “I was able to shadow the physician and her genetic counselor in the clinic they operated,” said Niell-Swiller. “That’s where I learned about this career. I went back to school to train for it where it became clear that this was the right path for me.”
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