While at Greenwood Genetics Center (GGC) from 2003 to 2007, Kristy was a laboratory genetic counselor and counseled patients in cancer, pediatric, adult and prenatal specialties. She worked to create valuable patient resources and helped to generate and disseminate laboratory literature online and at national meetings. Kristy described GGC as “an amazing place to work and grow as a genetic counselor. It is a nonprofit center completely focused on diagnosing, treating and taking care of patients with genetic conditions.” She offers great insight and advice to graduates and current students by saying, “If there is one thing that working at GGC taught me, it was never to turn down opportunities given to you. I never saw myself working as a laboratory counselor when I was in training, but I really loved it and learned so much.”
Kristy then transitioned to UNC-Chapel Hill in 2007, where she has already made a large impact. She counsels patients in adult and cancer clinics including specialty clinics in bleeding disorders and retinal disorders. “I work with an amazing team where I am able to assist with cutting-edge research projects,” shares Kristy. “and I always have their support to pursue my own research interests.” She has been the project manager for the Whole Genomic Analysis of High Risk Cancer Families study at UNC since 2009.
Kristy had previously covered a maternity leave at Wilmington Maternal-Medicine in 2002; years later, she recognized and fulfilled a great need in this community by developing and now staffing the monthly Coastal Cancer Clinic in Wilmington, NC. She also was primary investigator on the grant she wrote to secure funding for this endeavor. She is extremely involved in grant writing, public speaking to local and national audiences, presents her research findings and publishes on a variety of topics.
Through her dedication to families in ophthalmology clinic, Kristy has become an advocate for patients with eye diseases. She became a Board Member for the Raleigh-Durham Chapter of the Foundation for Fighting Blindness in 2008 and the Co-Chair of Education Programs in 2009. She is now President of this organization. “This organization is dear to me because the money raised is used to develop cures, not just treatments, for individuals with retinal diseases,” said Kristy. “Money raised by this organization provided the seed money for research studies that have now led to a number of gene therapy trials for retinal diseases.” Kristy is now the principal investigator on a retina whole exome sequencing (WES) project and is enrolling patients seen in the UNC Ophthalmology Genetics Clinic in a study offering WES free to patients with eye diseases of unknown etiology.
Not only does she devote her personal time to her patients, but she demonstrates how to “give back” to our profession. Kristy serves on the Familial Cancer Risk Counseling Special Interest Group and the Continuing Education Committee. She has been active at our National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conferences with many poster and platform presentations as well as Education Breakout Sessions
including “Hereditary Ophthalmologic Conditions: A New ‘Vision’.” Kristy has supervised genetic counseling students on clinical rotations since 2003. She has served on many student Capstone committees, delivered lectures at our program for many years and supported our program in various capacities including during the reaccreditation process.
Kristy Lee has established herself to be an outstanding alumnus, making significant contributions in individual lives as well as the genetics community through her patient care, educational efforts, research, advocacy and student mentoring. She has represented herself and the UNCG Genetic Counseling Program with utmost integrity. Kristy reveals her passion by stating, “I feel it is an honor and privilege to be an alumus of the UNCG MS Genetic Counseling Program. I am so thankful for having the opportunity to work in a field every day that I
enjoy so much, and I love being able to give back to Nancy Callanan and our Program.”
Kristy has earned the title of “Pacesetter” in the last decade and we have every reason to believe that she will be a pacesetter for many years to come. The HHS Alumni Association, alumni community and UNCG Genetic Counseling Program join together in congratulating you, Kristy!