The Genomics and Personalized Medicine Interest Group, also known as Netgene, received official membership in the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) SIG program last month. As an officially recognized student interest chapter of ACMG, Netgene will be able to offer a range of additional resources to Netter medical students interested in pursuing a career in genetics. This includes free membership in ACMG, as well as access to educational, research and career support ACMG has designed for medical students.

The ACMG accreditation marks the culmination of an exciting first year for Netgene. This year, Netgene organized the Genetics Seminar Series that hosted a lineup of zoom research talks by guest faculty from the Yale School of Medicine. The series included both clinical and basic science topics, including most recently a  talk by Yale’s  Chief of Medical Genetics Professor Yong-Hui Jiang on the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases, and a research talk by CRISPR gene-editing pioneer Professor Sidi Chen on the discovery of new cancer immunotherapies. Netgene also organized the Genetics Journal Club this past semester and is planning to offer a new computational genomics workshop series in the fall semester.

The student group also launched this past year the Netgene Colab, a research collaborative providing a forum for students, residents and faculty doing research in genetics to share ideas, get feedback, learn from each other, and establish collaborations. Netgene Colab members presented the work completed this year at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and will present at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), which are among the top international conferences featuring research in clinical and computational genomics respectively. This summer, Netgene Colab members are conducting research at the National Institutes of Health, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and the Wistar Institute Cancer Center in Philadelphia, among others. The student research is supported in part by the Summer Research Fellowship program at Netter  School of Medicine, which enables Netter medical students to pursue full-time research between their first and second years.

Netgene was founded last fall by a group of first-year medical students who came to Netter with strong basic science research backgrounds. The group wanted to promote a greater focus on student research and to widen opportunities for students interested in pursuing a physician-scientist track after graduation. The Netgene leadership team includes four Class of 2024 Netter medical students: Jack Goodman, who came to Netter after completing a masters in biochemistry at Johns Hopkins working on coronavirus drug discovery; Katherine Nichols, who did work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on CAR T-cell cancer therapies; Marcus Alexander, whose research is on microbiome metagenomics at Yale; and Luiza B. Chepkemoi, who comes to Netter from Cornell University with an interest in cancer biology and  genetic epidemiology. Dr. Janhawi Kelkar, who received her MD from Netter  School of Medicine this May, also served as a founding Co-President of Netgene. Dr. Kelkar successfully matched in one of the nation’s few residency programs offering combined training in Internal Medicine and Medical Genetics, accredited by the ACMG. She will be starting her residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York in June.

Netgene’s faculty advisor is Professor Miriam DiMaio, who is trained as a genetic counselor and who directs the design and implementation of Netter’s medical genetics curriculum.  She  has more than 30 years of experience in training residents and medical students in medical genetics, and in providing genetic counseling services. Prior to joining Netter in 2017, Professor Dimaio designed a genetics curriculum for Maternal Fetal Medicine fellows at Yale and taught medical genetics in the Department of Genetics and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine. Professor DiMaio is board-certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and licensed in genetic counseling in the State of Connecticut. She is a member of the American College of Medical Genetics.