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Meet Our Genetic Counselors

Katherine Kim, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor Manager, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Ms. Kim received her Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 2001, she has been a genetic counselor with the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s. While Ms. Kim serves as the manager of the genetic counseling team, she continues her clinical practice in Genetics, specializing in the mucopolysaccharidoses and neurofibromatosis. Ms. Kim also enjoys teaching and mentoring students, participating in clinic research projects and advocating for patients and families with rare genetic conditions.

“As a genetic counselor, I find fulfillment in the relationships I build with patients and families. As much as patients have learned from me, I have also learned from my patients. The families I work with have taught me what defines bravery, resilience, and hope.”   

Valerie Castelluccio, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Valerie graduated with a Master of Science in Medical and Molecular Genetics from Indiana University Medical School in 2019 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in August of 2019. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University in 2016. She started her career here at Lurie Children’s in the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism in 2019. She provides general pediatric genetic counseling, with an interest and focus on ophthalmology genetics. 

"The area of genetics intrigues me because of all the very recent scientific discoveries in this area. I decided to pursue genetic counseling because I would be able to witness first-hand what these recent discoveries can do for children, with a genetic condition, and their families. Being able to work closely with these families and being able to educate myself, and them, on new discoveries are the highlights of this career.” 

Sara Cherny, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Cardiology, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Sara is proud to be the first genetic counselor in the Section of Cardiology here at Lurie Children's. Her role is a combination of patient care, program development, and research. She graduated with her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Minnesota in 2007, and has experience in pediatric, prenatal, and cardiovascular genetic counseling. Her wide range of experience allows her to provide comprehensive care for patients in the Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic.

“I love all things genetics and all things about the heart, but most importantly, I love the opportunity to help patients and families learn about how genetics affects their health and their lives.”

Kristin Clemenz, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Hematology, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Kristin graduated with her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University in 1996, and has been the genetic counselor in Hematology at Lurie Children’s since 1998. Her specialty is working with patients who have sickle cell diseasehemophiliathalassemia, and other inherited blood disorders. She enjoys developing long-term relationships with her patients and their families, and provides education and support regarding their blood disorders through the years. Kristin also teaches and mentors students as part of the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling at Northwestern University. 

“I am honored to have been a part of the Hematology team for so many years and to have been able to provide education and counseling about genetics and get to know our wonderful patients.”

Lenika De Simone, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Neurology, Center for Genomics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Lenika De Simone received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2018. She joined the Lurie Children's team as a laboratory genetic counselor at the Center for Genomics. She also serves as a clinical genetic counselor at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) clinic

“I’m excited to form part of such a passionate and motivated team at Lurie Children’s. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work on both a clinical side, helping families navigate difficult times due to genetic conditions, and on a lab utilization side, where I can help providers make the most of what genetics has to offer.”

Andy Drackley, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Center for Genomics, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Andy received his Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2021. He started his career at Lurie Children’s as a genetic counselor in the Center for Genomics within the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. His main role is in the interpretation and reporting of genetic test results. He is also involved with the Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling.

"I’m honored that I get to use my passion for medical genetics to contribute to the world-class care provided to our patients and families."

Jaime Duncan, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I

Jaime received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2022. She began her career at Lurie Children’s providing pediatric genetic counseling services and as a laboratory genetic counselor at the Center for Genomics.

"I love being able to develop relationships with patients and families and help them advocate for their health. Additionally, I enjoy working with other healthcare providers to help deliver high quality care. It is exciting to work with teams of passionate individuals at Lurie in both my clinical and laboratory roles."

Hailey Funk, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor, Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Hailey graduated with a Master of Science in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College in 2018. She joined the Chicago Institute of Fetal Health as a genetic counselor in 2022. Prior to this, she worked as a prenatal genetic counselor in a fetal center gaining multiple years of experience.

Madison Hankins, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Madi received her Master of Genetic Counseling Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2020. She started her career at Lurie Children’s Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism where she provides pediatric genetic counseling services. Currently she serves as the Neurofibromatosis Clinic Coordinator and provides genetic counseling support to our metabolic team and patients. Additionally, she is an active member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP) and provides clinical supervision to genetic counseling graduate students and medical students.

“I love being a genetic counselor because I have the opportunity to build relationships with families and empower children and adolescents with genetic conditions to make informed decisions about their health. I am inspired by the resiliency of the patients I see on a daily basis!”

Cassandra Heald, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Cassie Heald received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Cincinnati in 2015 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in 2016. She started her career at Lurie Children’s in the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism where she provides pediatric genetic counseling services with a focus on general genetics and cystic fibrosis newborn screening. Additionally, she is an active member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP) and provides clinical supervision to genetic counseling graduate students and medical students.

“I am fascinated by genetics and enjoy working in a field where I am constantly challenged and have the opportunity to learn new things every day. As a genetic counselor, I love helping patients and families process complex information and understand how genetics can play a role in their health.”

Rachel E. Hickey, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Rachel received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in May 2017, and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in August 2017. Rachel completed a genetic counseling fellowship in lysosomal storage diseases at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, focusing on diagnosis, management, treatment and newborn screening for this group of complex diseases. She currently provides genetic counseling services in the pediatric setting, continuing to specialize in lysosomal storage diseases as well as general genetics. She serves as the clinic coordinator for the Leukodystrophy Clinic at Lurie Children’s, and also is the primary coordinator for this center’s Krabbe Disease and X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy Newborn Screening Programs.

“My greatest clinical interest is in treatment of genetic conditions. It is an extraordinary time to be working in this field, as we are now able to use genetic information and diagnoses to identify and initiate personalized therapies.”

Eleanor Hilton, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Center for Genomics at Ann &  Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Eleanor received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2020. She started her career at Lurie Children’s as a laboratory genetic counselor at the Center for Genomics.

“As a laboratory genetic counselor, I collaborate with healthcare providers in selecting genetic testing options for their patients and throughout the genetic testing process. I am excited to be able to support the best delivery of care to Lurie Children’s patients and families who receive genetic testing.”

Alexander Ing, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Alexander Ing is a genetic counselor in the Center for Genomics within the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Lurie Children’s. His role is centered around in-house genetic testing analysis and reporting. In addition, he also serves as a clinical genetic counselor within the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine as part of the Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) specialty clinic. He is a graduate of the Boston University Genetic Counseling Program and was previously a dual pediatric and laboratory counselor at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also involved with the Northwestern Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling and is passionate about variant interpretation and data collaboration initiatives to improve our scientific understanding of genetic testing results.

“I believe that genetics and precision medicine has great promise to help our patients and families. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help share this knowledge and information with them”.

Jelena Ivanisevic, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Neurology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Jelena received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2021 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in August of 2021. She began her career at Lurie Children’s in the Neurology Department as one of two genetic counselors who provide counseling for patients and families affected by epilepsy and neurogenetic conditions. Jelena is also an active member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals’ Advocacy Committee.

“What excites me most about being a genetic counselor is interacting with the community of patients, families, and specialists at Lurie Children’s. I feel fortunate to work with families to provide clarity and support while they process and adjust to complex neurogenetic diagnoses.”

Monika Izdebski, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Lysosomal Storage Disorder Fellow

Monika received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2022. She joined Lurie Children’s in 2022 as a Lysosomal Storage Disorder Fellow, where she is involved in both clinical care and research.

"As a genetic counselor, I feel fortunate to serve as a source of support for patients and their families as they adapt to complex genetic diagnoses and advocate for their needs.”

Sarah Jurgensmeyer, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Sarah received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2020. She started her career at Lurie Children’s providing pediatric genetic counseling services. Sarah currently has a clinical interest and focus on connective tissue disorders, cardiovascular genetics, Williams syndrome, and general genetics. She also serves as the current Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals.

“For me, the best part of being a genetic counselor at Lurie Children’s is the extraordinary opportunity to develop relationships with, advocate for, and support our incredible patients and families impacted by rare diseases.”

Elizabeth Leeth, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Ann Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Assistant Director, Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling; 
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Ms. Leeth received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Indiana University. Ms Leeth practiced prenatal genetics, teaching, and team management for over 20 years. In 2014, she had the opportunity to be involved in the development of the Lab Utilization Program at Lurie Children's. She also facilitated incorporating genetic counseling services into the multidisciplinary Sex Development Clinic at Lurie Children's. She enjoys both the educational and clinical aspects of her roles.

“It is exciting and rewarding to be able to be work at a state of the art, academic institution.  I consider myself lucky to be a small part of such a great team of healthcare providers who are dedicate to caring for and educating patients, their families, and trainees.”

Erin McGinnis, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Neurology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Erin is one of two genetic counselors in the Neurology Department at Lurie Children’s Hospital, transitioning to this role in June 2019. Previous experience at Lurie Children’s includes lab utilization management and neuromuscular genetic counseling. She received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and has been a board certified, licensed genetic counselor since 2016. She identifies and consents patients for various Lurie Children’s and Northwestern epilepsy genetics research projects and mentors genetic counseling students. Additionally, Erin is a member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP) where she serves as the chair of the Community Outreach Committee.

“I am passionate about working with families affected by a variety of neurogenetic conditions, helping them find answers and supporting them along the diagnostic journey. I also enjoy the opportunity to work alongside the neurologists and epileptologists at Lurie Children’s and helping them continue to integrate genetics into mainstream care for our patients.”

Shelly Weiss McQuaid, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Shelly Weiss McQuaid is a genetic counselor for the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Stem-Cell Transplantation at Lurie Children’s. She founded the Cancer Predisposition Program. Shelly previously served on the hospital’s laboratory utilization management team and transitioned this part of her role to research in 2020. Shelly appreciates the opportunity to provide clinical care to pediatric oncology patients and their families, connect families with research opportunities and develop her own research. Shelly is involved with the Northwestern Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling and the Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetic Disorders. Shelly was inspired to pursue a career in genetic counseling by her fantastic and unique cousin, who was diagnosed with a genetic condition when they were children.

“My favorite part about being a genetic counselor is the opportunity to be a leader and innovator in healthcare. We have the ability to create and implement changes that result in greater access to genetic information for our patients, helping them to feel more empowered about their health, medical care and futures.”

Angelique E. Mercier, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Angelique Mercier enjoys providing genetic counseling for a wide variety of indications, with an interest and focus on pediatric oncologyconnective tissue disorderscystic fibrosis newborn screening, and general genetics. She received her MS in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2014, and her BS in Biology and Psychology with minors in Chemistry and Social Work from Valparaiso University in 2012. Prior to joining the Lurie Children's Genetics team, her previous clinical experience included adult oncology, carrier screening program coordination, and educational outreach.

“For me, the best part about being a genetic counselor is the opportunity to work together with the amazing families and other healthcare providers to truly meet the unique needs of each and every patient.”

Miguel Moran, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

Miguel received his Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2021. His main role is providing genetic counseling services in the pediatric setting. Prior to this, his experience includes working as a genetic counselor in a cytogenetics laboratory.

"As a genetic counselor, I love connecting with patients and families and providing support along their journey."

Andrea Paras, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor Level III, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Ms. Paras received her Master of Science in Medical Genetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since 1999, she has been a genetic counselor in the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s. Ms. Paras has experience in managing patients with mucopolysaccharidoses, PKU and other inborn errors of metabolism as well as evaluating patients for a wide variety of other indications. Prior to becoming a genetic counselor, Ms. Paras worked in social service agencies for adults with intellectual disabilities. She has continued to have a special interest in treating and supporting patients with intellectual disabilities and advocating for patients affected with rare genetic conditions. Ms. Paras enjoys teaching children about their own genetic conditions and supporting their transition to self-care.

“Over the past 20 years, there have been great advances in our ability to diagnose and treat genetic conditions. It is very fulfilling to make these new tests and therapies available to patients. I enjoy the connections I make with patients and their families, and strive to provide care which is tailored to the unique needs of each patient and each family.”

Merlene Peter, MMSc, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Merlene received her Master in Medical Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Emory University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2019. She joined Lurie Children’s in 2020 as a clinical genetic counselor who provides pediatric genetic counseling services. Previously, she completed her fellowship in lysosomal storage disorders at Emory University.

“As a genetic counselor, I am passionate about helping families find answers for their complex medical conditions and feel privileged to be a part of the diagnostic journey. I feel fortunate to be able to work with an enthusiastic team who are constantly dedicated to better serve the patients.”

Allegra Quadri, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University;
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Allegra graduated with a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). Following graduation, Allegra completed a genetic counseling fellowship in lysosomal storage disorders in the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s. She was a 2021 recipient of the WORLDSymposium Young Investigator Award for her research on newborn screening for mucopolysaccharidosis type II. Allegra went on to join the team as a pediatric genetic counselor, practicing general pediatric genetics as well as maintaining a specialization in lysosomal storage diseases.

“It is so rewarding to develop meaningful relationships with patients and families and empower them with information and resources that support their goals. I am also fascinated by continuous advancements of therapies and research surrounding rare genetic conditions. I feel fortunate to be a part of a passionate team dedicated to being at the forefront of genetic research and patient care.”

Carly Rasmussen, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Lysosomal Storage Disorder Fellow

Carly received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2022, and her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Indiana University in 2020. She joined Lurie Children’s in 2022 to participate in the Lysosomal Storage Disorder (LSD) Fellowship where she works with patients and families affected with LSDs to help navigate their diagnostic, management, and/or treatment journeys.

"As a genetic counselor, one of my primary goals is to create a safe and welcoming environment for patients and families to ask questions and express emotions or concerns."

Carolyn R. Serbinski, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism, Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Carolyn is a board-certified genetic counselor who received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Michigan in 2018. Carolyn, working closely with a team of scientists and clinicians, has dedicated her career to supporting families with rare genetic diseases by meeting them at the intersection of clinical care, research advancements, and advocacy. Carolyn spends much of her time caring for patients with RASopathies, mTORopathies, lysosomal storage disorders, and connective tissue disorders.

“The field of Genetics is coming of age. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside so many resilient, rare disease families as we continue to discover, learn about, and advocate for those with genetic conditions.”

Allison (Goetsch) Weisman, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Allison received her Master of Science in genetic counseling from Northwestern University in 2014 was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in 2014. She is a pediatric genetic counselor in the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism at Lurie Children's, where she currently provides genetic counseling to patients and families in the Neurofibromatosis Program and in the Sex Development Program. In 2016, Allison was the "CodeTalker" award winner – a patient nominated national award for excellence in genetic counseling. In addition to her clinical role, Allison is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She enjoys teaching graduate students, as well as conducting her own research. Her research interests include fertility preservation and the healthcare transition process. Allison has several publications in these areas of interest, including co-authorship of Fertility Preservation and Restoration for Patients with Complex Medical Conditions, a medical textbook. Additionally, she published the first national Neurofibromatosis healthcare transition readiness study and was an author for the National Society of Genetic Counselors' (NSGC) Neurofibromatosis Practice Resource.

“I enjoy building relationships with families and instilling confidence in children and adolescents with genetic conditions to take charge of their own health and accomplish their life goals.”

Kristen Young, MSGC

Genetic Counselor I

Kristen received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2019. She joined Lurie Children’s in 2020 as a genetic counselor in The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health. Prior to this, her experience includes working as a clinical preconception and prenatal genetic counselor. Kristen is also an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, serving on the Access and Service Delivery committee.

“I am passionate about helping families understand and cope with complex fetal diagnoses. I am also grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of specialists, working together to provide the best care possible for our patients.”