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Anna Michell

Genetic Counsellor

With interests in subjects as diverse as volcanology and marine biology, Anna decided to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge. Here, she rediscovered a love of genetics, which had interested her at school. Anna carried out projects on Japanese ladybirds and microscopic worms, learning that science often doesn’t allow you to get the right answer first time round, but it can be interesting and fun getting there.

After graduating, Anna moved to Oxford to work as a research assistant in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine. She really enjoyed this and decided to study for a DPhil looking into the genetic causes of inherited heart problems. Anna realised how much these issues affect patients and their families, so after her DPhil she decided to train as a genetic counsellor at Cardiff University.

Anna now works as a Cardiac Genetic Counsellor at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. She supports Prof Hugh Watkins’ patients and helps them access genetic testing for conditions affecting the heart muscle. Anna says: “It is very rewarding to see how genetic tests can help guide the clinical screening we need to offer families affected by these conditions, and to help patients understand why and how a condition runs in their family”.

It will soon be possible to look at a patient’s whole genome, which will make genetic testing more complex and interesting. Anna aims to become involved with advising doctors and counsellors how to offer and explain these tests, and to shape the future of the expanding field of genetic counselling.

Anna was one of the scientists advising the creation of the Oxford Sparks animation Another Case of Heart Trouble.