The Division of Human Genetics at the health sciences faculty has established a master's course in genetic counselling and two full-time students and two part-time genetic counsellors in-training have enrolled this year.
And in what is considered to be a first for South Africa, on March 29 an oath-taking ceremony was held for the four students, officiated by the deputy dean Professor Gonda Perez.
By facilitating the identification of actual disease-causing as well as predisposing genes to many human disorders, the Human Genome Project has lead to a dramatic transformation in the practice of medicine and public health today.
The impetus for this course has come from the urgent need in southern Africa for genetic counsellors adequately trained to provide psychologically-oriented and supportive counselling to families and individuals with genetic conditions.
"There is also a need for genetic counselling researchers to broaden the scope of this new profession in South Africa by generating research literature from and for the African continent," added Associate Professor Jacquie Greenberg.
"The overall benefit of this graduate programme will be to fulfil the need for advanced training in health education and service development for people in Africa who suffer from genetic disease."
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