How the society started

The Professional Society of Genetic Counselors in Asia (PSGCA) is a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Asia Pacific Society of Human Genetics (APSHG). The formation of the pro tempore leadership was ignited by APSHG Past-President Prof. Meow Keong Thong (Malaysia) when he approached Mercy Laurino (Philippines) shortly after giving her talk about the Philippines’ genetic counseling training program during the 2013 International Conference on Birth Defects (ICBD) in Cebu, Philippines. He emphasized the importance of creating a society for genetic counselors in the region to foster collaboration and to advocate for ongoing professional development opportunities. Breana Cham (Singapore) attended the same 2013 ICBD session and joined the conversation about launching the society. After the conference, Prof. Thong introduced Yoyo Chu (Hong Kong) and Juliana Lee (Malaysia) to Ms. Laurino via email correspondence and Ms. Laurino asked Peter James Abad (Philippines) and Saahil Kejriwal (India) to participate. Over the next year, Peter James Abad (Philippines), Saahil Kejriwal (India), Mercy Laurino (Philippines), Yoyo Chu (Hong Kong), Juliana Lee (Malaysia) and Breana Cham (Singapore) ongoing met virtually to discuss the society’s development and to specifically draft the society’s constitution by-laws.

On November 28, 2014, the PSGCA constitution by-laws was finalized and formally submitted for review to the APSHG Executive Leadership and Board of Directors. On March 26, 2015, APSHG Past-President Prof. Thong emailed the approval to pro tempore President Ms. Laurino that the PSGCA is an official APSHG SIG. A few months later, in Hanoi, Viet Nam, the PSGCA was publicly launched on September 16, 2015 during the genetic counseling pre-conference workshop (GCPCW) held at the 11th Asia Pacific Conference on Human Genetics (APCHG). To provide country-specific context for the practice of genetic counseling, country representatives in the region were invited to attend the GCPCW and the collaboration resulted to a key publication to provide the current status of the genetic counseling profession in the region. 1During the GCPCW, Prof. Sultana Faradz (Indonesia) noted historical conversations that happened during the 10th APCHG in 2012 regarding the formation of a genetic counselor society in the region. 2Recognizing the importance of launching the society several years prior to the 2015 PSGCA official launch is a testament to the urgent need in fostering the alliance of genetic counselors and medical geneticists within the Asia Pacific region and across the globe.
1Laurino, Mercy Y., Kathleen A. Leppig, Peter James Abad, Breana Cham, Yoyo Wing Yiu Chu, et al. “A report on ten Asia Pacific countries on current status and future directions of the genetic counseling profession: the establishment of the Professional Society of Genetic Counselors in Asia.” Journal of Genetic Counseling 27, no. 1 (2018): 21-32.

2Zayts, O., Sarangi, S., Thong, M. K., Chung, B. H.., et. al. (2013). Genetic counseling/consultation in South-East Asia: a report from the workshop at the 10th Asia pacific conference on human genetics. Journal of genetic counseling, 22(6), 917-924.