Leadership

Amanda Bergner headshot

Amanda Bergner, MS, CGC
Associate Professor of Genetic Counseling, Department of Genetics and Development

Program Director

Course Director: Introduction to Genetic Counseling; Foundations of Human Development; Therapeutic Genetic Counseling 1 and 2

I am an ABGC board-certified genetic counselor with over 20 years of experience in clinical care, education, industry work, and research. I believe strongly in the therapeutic potential of genetic counseling and the capacity of our profession to support people engaging with questions about how genetic and genomic medicine impact them as individuals, families, communities, and society. I am originally from Virginia and completed my education in genetic counseling at the University of California, Berkeley where my capstone work addressed the relational impact of infertility on couples. I have worked in clinical practice at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital, providing inpatient and outpatient genetic counseling services for clients affected by or at risk for a broad range of genetic disorders. I have also worked for several years in advocacy at the National Fragile X Foundation and industry at Ambry Genetics. My research has focused on the process of consent for exome sequencing, health-related quality of life, and the use of patient-reported outcome measures in clinical trials. I have been a faculty member of several genetic counseling graduate programs and have held a variety of leadership positions within NSGC, ABGC, and ACGC. I am currently the Secretary/Treasurer for the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) and a member of the Education Committee of the New York State Genetics Task Force. I joined Columbia University in 2017 as the inaugural program director for the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program.

 

Michelle Ernst headshot

Michelle Ernst Florido, MS, CGC
Assistant Professor of Genetic Counseling, Department of Genetics and Development

Assistant Program Director

Course Director: Cancer Genetics; Advanced Counseling Skills; Process Group

Fieldwork Supervisor: Cancer Genetics

I am an ABGC board-certified genetic counselor with over eight years of experience in clinical care, research, and translational genomics. My experience has allowed me to develop a nuanced understanding of both the challenges and successes of genomic medicine and to better appreciate the interface between clinical care and research in genetics and genomics. I am originally from New York and completed my genetic counseling graduate education at the University of Michigan where my research focused on the lived experience of rare disease, particularly around the process and emotional effect of disclosing a diagnosis to peers during adolescence and young adulthood. I have worked in clinical practice at Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, serving as a clinical supervisor and rotation coordinator for genetic counseling students and contributing to programmatic development of the clinical cancer genetics service. I have also worked for several years at the Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM) at Columbia University Medical Center, where I have focused on the utilization of research whole exome sequencing toward the goal of therapeutic precision medicine in epilepsy. I joined the Columbia University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program in 2018 as the inaugural assistant program director. 

 

Priyanka Ahimaz

Priyanka Ahimaz, MS, CGC
Assistant Professor of Genetic Counseling, Department of Pediatrics

Student Research Director

Course Director: Scholarly Project; Foundations of Clinical Genetics; Community, Identity, and Engagement

I am an ABGC board-certified genetic counselor with over 11 years of experience in both clinical care and research. Through my clinical practive, I have worked with in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and cardiac genetics. I have also been involved in multiple clinical research projects and I am the lead coordinator of the Congenital Anomalies Research Exploration (CARE) investigating genomic factors that contribute to the formation of various birth defects, currently focusing on tracheoesophageal defects. My other research projects have focused on patient-centered impact and communication of genetic test results, genomics education of providers in different specialties, and assessing the clinical needs of patients with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I completed my genetic counseling graduate education at Arcadia University and my Master's thesis explored the utility of genetic counseling for family caregivers of patients with Parkinson Disease. I am passionate about expanding genomics education have served as a clinical supervisor, course director and research mentor to several genetic counseling students over the years. I hold leadership roles in various national professional organizations including NSGC, and am an incoming member of the Board of Directors for the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) as well as the incoming Chair of the Education Committee for the New York State Genetics Task Force. I joined the Columbia University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program in 2021 as the inaugural student research director. 

 

Elana Levinson

Elana Levinson, MS, MPH, CGC
Assistant Professor of Genetic Counseling, Department of Medicine

Fieldwork Coordinator

Course Director: Genetics, Genomics, and Society; Cancer Genetics Internship

Fieldwork Supervisor: Cancer Genetics

I am an ABGC board-certified genetic counselor with over 20 years of experience. I completed my genetic counseling graduate education at Sarah Lawrence College where my thesis focused on the religious ethics of BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing in the Orthodox Jewish population. I also completed a masters in public health at King’s College London where my research explored public interest in direct-to-consumer genetic testing. I have worked in many settings, including prenatal, pediatric, and cancer genetics, as well as in clinical research in Alzheimer disease. I have also served as a course director for Practice of Medicine at King’s College London, offering a comparative look at medicine and healthcare in the US and the UK. These opportunities have given me an appreciation of genetics across the lifespan and around the world. Over the years, I have served as a clinical supervisor and research mentor for many genetic counseling graduate students. I currently hold a leadership position in the Collaborative Group of the Americas-Inherited Gastrointestinal Cancers and provide clinical genetic counseling for individuals and family members with inherited susceptibility to cancer. 

 

Wendy Chung headshot

Wendy Chung, MD, PhD
Kennedy Family Professor of Pediatrics

Co-Medical Director

Course Director: Introduction to Precision Medicine

I am an ABMGG board-certified clinical and molecular geneticist with 22 years of experience in clinical care, education, and human genetic research of monogenic and complex traits. I have taught the Columbia medical and dental school course in human genetics since 2002 and have frequently given lectures in genetics at the School of Nursing, Mailman School of Public Health, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Law School, School of Journalism, and School of Social Work at Columbia University. I lead the precision medicine resource at the Irving Institute and have developed and have led the course in precision medicine since 2015. I have mentored over 90 postdoctoral fellows, medical/graduate/genetic counseling students, and junior faculty members, many of whom now have faculty positions at leading institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, Baylor, Columbia, and Cornell Universities. I joined the Columbia University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program in 2017 as an inaugural co-medical director. 

 

Ronald Wapner headshot

Ronald Wapner, MD
Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Co-Medical Director

Course Director: Introduction to Precision Medicine

I am an ABMGG and ABOG board-certified OB/GYN with 29 years of clinical experience. I have participated in or led randomized trials evaluating genetic prenatal diagnostic and screening technologies for more than 26 years. These include much of the original work evaluating chorionic villus sampling, biochemical and ultrasound screening for fetal chromosome abnormalities, a prospective comparison of chromosomal microarray to karyotyping for prenatal testing, microarray analysis of stillborn infants, and a comparison of cell-free DNA to biochemical and ultrasound screening in low-risk pregnant woman. My most recent work evaluated the role of expanded pan-ethnic carrier screening in prenatal care, which presented the largest experience of such testing to date and demonstrated racial and ethnic consequences in the screening recommendations, presently in practice. I am currently involved in evaluating the use of whole-exome sequencing in structurally abnormal fetuses. I have extensive experience as a mentor and teacher, serving as the director of fellowship programs at both Jefferson Medical College and Columbia University. I have supervised both clinical and basic science research trainees, many of whom now hold prominent positions at academic institutions and have made significant contributions to research in our field. I joined the Columbia University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program in 2017 as an inaugural co-medical director.