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Alumni News Kevin Storr December 01, 2023

UAB Genetic Counseling Program alumni, Brighton Goodhue, MS, LCGC, and Dana (Hollenbeck) Goodloe, MPH, MS, LCGC, were two of only 15 genetic counselors in the U.S. to be nominated for the Heart of Genetic Counseling Award this year. The award is sponsored by Invitae and honorees are selected from nominees submitted by patients and families that have received genetic counseling services.

The award “celebrates the heart that genetic counselors bring to patient care, giving patients compassion and insight as they understand and respond to genetic conditions.” Nominees are “a testament to genetic counselors’ commitment to their patients and to the life-changing impact they have on the people they touch.”

“I find inspiration from reading all of the nominees’ stories and am reminded of why this field is such a special part of healthcare,” said Dana. “They represent individuals who are wonderful at their job. I strive to do this for every patient and hope they all experience this level of support when they are in my care or the care of any member of the UAB Genetics team.”

Brighton Goodhue, MS, LCGC
M.S. in Genetic Counseling, Class of 2019

Goodhue Our Anchor

Brighton Goodhue is a genetic counselor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She was nominated by Kelsie Hughes. She and her husband Michael have achondroplasia – the most common form of dwarfism.

MICHAEL KELSIE HENRY BRIGHTONAt times, they face discrimination in the medical field even though Kelsie is a pediatric nurse practitioner in oncology and Michael is a pharmacist. But that was never the case with Brighton.

“The moment I met Brighton, I felt at ease. Besides my husband, I’ve never clicked with someone so easily in my life. When you have a disability, some medical providers talk down to you, but Brighton realized that we were both knowledgeable about achondroplasia and personalized her care to match our needs.”

“I will be the first to admit that I’m not perfect, but I really do my best to work as if I was in the situation or a family member or a close friend and I ask myself, ‘how would I like to be treated in this situation?’,” said Brighton. “I work to give patients my full, undivided attention in order to really figure out what’s going to be best for them and how I can help them achieve those goals for them and their families.”

In 2020, Kelsie became pregnant. At the 18-week point, Brighton called with devastating news – their son carried two copies of the achondroplasia gene. This is known as “double dominant” and as Kelsie says in her story, “is not compatible with life.” She lost their baby, Patrick James, a few weeks later.

Kelsie says Brighton was a beacon for them during this “dark time.” She was with them as they worked to get pregnant again. She was with them through her next pregnancy. And she was with them to celebrate their son Henry, who was born in 2023 and is healthy and thriving.

“She was one of few individuals with whom we were able to be completely vulnerable. Her presence was a reassuring anchor through our whole turbulent journey. Over the last three years, Brighton has been with us from our lowest lows to our greatest joys. There are simply not enough words to describe our immense gratitude that she is in our lives.”

“This nomination is such an honor – especially being pretty young in my career, I feel very fortunate,” said Brighton. “I would like to highlight the importance of others: my co-workers at VUMC and the genetic counseling program at UAB – I am definitely grateful for everyone that has supported me in this process. And of course, I am grateful to Kelsie and Michael and their family – they are just very special to me.”

Dana (Hollenbeck) Goodloe, MPH, MS, LCGC
M.S. in Genetic Counseling, Class of 2013

Goodloe Silver Lining

Dana (Hollenbeck) Goodloe is a genetic counselor at UAB who also sees patients at Children’s of Alabama.

“Being nominated for the Heart of Genetic Counseling award is the honor of a lifetime,” said Dana. “When someone is being seen for genetic counseling, they are typically in a difficult part of their life. My goal is do anything I can to make things easier for them while providing valuable information and support.”

Meghan DanaThe first time Dana met Meghan Brown, was as a colleague not a counselor. But on the day Meghan went in for a targeted ultrasound just past 20 weeks, Dana – who was not typically in the maternal-fetal department – was there filling in for someone.

“I was so grateful that she was there. She was very patient and explained to my then-husband and me exactly what to expect.”

Meghan said she knew something was wrong based on the physician’s body language.

“Dana came to the ultrasound room and held my hand when the bad news was delivered.”

The scan identified “potential defects in Walter’s brain, heart, and kidneys.” Even though no genetic abnormalities were revealed, they still had to have an ultrasound every week for eight weeks. Meghan says they were told something different every time they went.

“The one constant in our lives during those weeks was Dana. She went above and beyond to help us understand what we were facing.”

Walter was born after 28 weeks. On his second day of life, they made the difficult decision to take him off life support. He passed away a couple hours later.

“Through it all, Dana was by my side. She was one of the first people to visit him in the neonatal intensive care unit, and she would check in on him — and me — every several hours.”

It has been four years since Walter passed away. Meghan says she still talks to Dana at least one time each month.

“She is the one silver lining to have come out of this heartbreaking process. But even before then, I witnessed her fabulous work as a genetic counselor, and I know she gives the same care and attention to all her patients. I’m beyond grateful for Dana and the amazing work she does every day.”

“As a clinical Genetic Counselor, my goal is to provide the best care possible for each patient and meet them where they are in their journey. I feel blessed to have been a part of Meghan’s life and journey,” said Dana.

Brighton Goodhue and Dana Goodloe are emblematic of “the heart that genetic counselors bring to the front lines of genetic medicine, as they help patients through life-changing decisions for themselves and their families.”

The two alumni of the UAB M.S. in Genetic Counseling program are both known for providing exceptional and irreplaceable care to their patient families who are dealing with major health challenges while working to understand and respond to genetic conditions. As nominees, Brighton and Dana are featured in the book – “The Heart of Genetic Counseling Award.” They were also honored during the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Conference in October 2023.

This is the second year in a row that an alumni from the UAB Genetic Counseling program have been recognized for this award. In 2022, Samantha (Avery) Stover, MS, LCGC, Class of 2012 was also recognized for her work as a prenatal genetic counselor.

When asked to reflect on the accomplishments of the program’s alumni, the MSGC program director, R. Lynn Holt, MS, LCGC, said, “I am excited to see the recognition of our alumni by the patients and families they serve for their compassionate and quality care.”

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