Founder of the private genetic counseling practice Pacific Reproductive Genetic Counseling (PRGC) and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)’s Genetic Counseling Special Interest Group, Lauri Black, MS, LCGC, is among the rising number of Certified Genetic Counselors in the field of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and fertility genetics.
Lauri’s interest in genetic counseling was ignited when she discovered the job description of a genetic counselor in a high school vocational class; at the same time she discovered her love of hereditary genetics in a biology class. “The fact that genetics were beautifully complex and could be boiled down to the elegant simplicity of Punnett squares is what sparked my initial interest,” explains Lauri. “When I realized that I could combine the human aspect of counseling with the science of genetics, it solidified my decision to become a genetic counselor. I knew I had found a career path that could feed both my heart and my head.”
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling in 1998, Lauri started her career with a newly created position at the University of California, San Francisco working in male factor infertility genetics. It began as a position that was 50% prenatal and 50% male factor infertility genetics. The position then blossomed into counseling for preimplantation genetic testing as well and Lauri transitioned from ART and prenatal genetics to becoming a full time ART and infertility genetic counselor. This was at a time when she could count on one hand the number of other genetic counselors with this specialty.
Over the next 13 years of her career, Lauri discovered most patients embarking on the road to fertility could benefit from seeing a Certified Genetic Counselor, but could not access them easily. “Though larger medical organizations have access to a reproductive (usually prenatal) genetic counselor on-site, it is very uncommon to find one present in IVF clinics,” said Lauri. “A major reason patients benefit from genetic counseling infertility treatment is that it can help them understand the complex genetic tests being offered and make informed decisions for their care.”
Armed with this knowledge, a 13-year foundation in reproductive genetic counseling, and a network of reproductive endocrinologists, Lauri took a major leap of faith. She left her stable job at a large scale medical facility where she was a supervising genetic counselor at the prenatal diagnosis center, once again dividing her time between prenatal genetics and ART. Lauri opened her own private practice, Pacific Reproductive Genetic Counseling, and focused exclusively on ART and infertility genetic counseling. She was supported and encouraged in this transition by her colleague and experienced private practice genetic counselor, Amy Vance. After almost 9 years of private practice and helping patients on their family building journeys, Lauri has never looked back.
For more information on Lauri Black’s specialty in ART and fertility genetics and her private practice, feel free to contact her at [email protected]