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Genetic Counselors

History

Although the history of genetics dates back to the experiments of the Austrian monk Gregor Mendel in the 1860s, genetic counseling is a relatively young profession. The American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG) began certifying genetic counselors in 1981 and in 1991 became part of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). In 1993, the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) formed out of the ABMGG. Since 1993, according to the ABGC Web site, the number of genetic counselors recognized by the ABGC has increased from 495 to about 5,000 and the number of accredited graduate programs has risen from 18 to approximately 50. In recent years, scientists have made great strides in unraveling the mystery of the human genome and understanding the science of genetics. In 2000, the Human Genome Project (HGP) and Celera Genomics Corporation completed rough drafts of the human genome, four years earlier than projected. Such advances promise a great deal of new scientific knowledge that can be used to battle diseases and help people understand how their genes can affect their life and health. As medical science's understanding of genetics, particularly in relation to birth defects and inherited diseases, deepens, increased growth in the need for genetic counseling can be expected.

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