ABGC Diplomate Michelle Takemoto, MS, CGC is a genetic counselor at the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) Genetics Program in Honolulu. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Genetic Counseling Program, Michelle’s journey to becoming a genetic counselor was inspired through her personal experience as a genetic counseling patient.
“I first became interested in genetic counseling when I was pregnant with my daughter. We had been referred to a genetic counselor and I found the consultation fascinating. Seven years and a few life changes later, I did an informational interview with my genetic counselor and decided to go back to school,” said Takemoto. “During my time at the University of Minnesota, I connected with the Hawaii DOH Genetics Program back home, and that afforded me the opportunity to attend the first Western States Telegenetics Training session.”
After graduating from the University of Minnesota’s genetic counseling program in 2015, Michelle accepted a position at the Hawaii DOH Genetics Program, the lead organization for the Western States Regional Genetics Network (WSRGN). The WSRGN collaborates with the National Coordinating Center for the Regional Genetics Network (NCC) on projects that increase access to genetic services for underserved populations. These projects include providing public education about genetics and genetic services, decision making about the addition of new conditions to the Hawaii Newborn Screening panel, conducting telegenetics trainings for providers around the country, and starting the Minority Genetic Professionals Network (MGPN). Genetic counselors with the Hawaii Department of Health also provide pediatric genetic services in partnership with Hawaii Community Genetics.
Michelle’s current role involves coordinating the Western States Telegenetics Training program and the telegenetic services provided at Hawaii Community Genetics. She also serves as the coordinator for the MGPN. One of the many rewarding parts of Michelle’s position as a certified genetic counselor is that, through the MGPN, she is able to provide a way for minority CGCs and genetic counseling students to connect with each other and better serve their communities.
“Many MPGN participants have felt isolated, and now are excited to have a vehicle to develop a sense of community and connection that has not previously existed in our field,” said Michelle. “We are still in the early stages of this network, but it is exciting to see the connections that are already being made.
To learn more about Michelle’s journey as a certified genetic counselor, contact her at [email protected]