Grey Genetics was founded to connect thoughtful individuals seeking a better understanding of their genetic testing options, results, and implications with highly specialized genetic counselors.
There are thousands of genetic tests on the market today with new genetic testing products entering the market daily. Many of these tests are marketed to and ordered by physicians and other healthcare providers. Increasingly, genetic tests are also marketed directly to consumers. Marketing materials excel in clarity and simplicity, highlighting the benefits of genetic testing, the ease of the ordering process, and much more attractive price points than were possible in the past. Marketing materials also necessarily oversimplify.
New technologies have made quick and cheap genetic testing possible— when it’s done at scale. Interpreting these piles of data, however, remains a challenge. Even when genetic data is well characterized and has the potential to meaningfully inform preventive care, lack of effective communication around genetic testing results represents a significant barrier to Personalized Medicine. Testing and data processing scale; conversation does not.
Grey Genetics was founded to provide genetic counseling services to thoughtful individuals seeking a better understanding of their genetic testing options, results, and the implications for their own healthcare as well as that of family members.
Marketing materials related to genetic testing are relentlessly cheery. Media headlines related to genetics often refer to “the gene for ___.” A common misconception of genetics is that genes are deterministic. Genetics just isn’t that black and white. There is a lot of grey! The name Grey Genetics® was chosen as a nod to the nuance and complexity inherent in genetic testing options, decisions, results, and implications and application of any decisions or results.
Grey was also chosen because the two different possible spellings of the same word (gray and grey) illustrate a common genetic phenomenon: two different genetic spellings (the substitution of one nucleic acid base for another) can produce the same result (the same amino acid). This is just one example of normal genetic variation. Our genomes may be 99.5% the same, but that still leaves room for variation in 15 million out of 3 billion base pairs. So we’re mostly the same and we’re all very different. It’s complicated.
How is Grey Genetics different from other genetic counseling companies?
Grey Genetics is independent.
Grey Genetics is not affiliated with any commercial genetic testing laboratories and does not have any outside investors. This leaves us free to focus on providing high quality genetic counseling services with no pressure for genetic counselors to recommend testing through one lab over the other—or to recommend any testing at all when there is no clinical utility.
Grey Genetics’ network of genetic counselors are independent.
Genetic counselors listed on the Grey Genetics Network are not employees of Grey Genetics but instead provide independent genetic counseling services using Grey Genetics’ HIPAA-compliant platforms. Most genetic counselors listed on the Grey Genetics Network are employed elsewhere, and their current as well as past professional experience/employment forms part of their expertise. To be listed on the Grey Genetics’ Network, genetic counselors must provide proof of graduation from an ACGC-certified program. Most genetic counselors listed on the Network also have ABGC or CAGC certification, indicated by the letters CGC or CCGC after their names.
Grey Genetics lets patients choose their own genetic counselor.
Patients are used to being able to shop around for a doctor or a therapist. But when it comes to genetic counseling, there are so few genetic counselors that patients have usually ended up seeing whichever genetic counselor happens to be located closest to where they live. Or, in a telehealth scenario, a patient is typically just assigned a genetic counselor. At Grey Genetics, patients can choose to prioritize scheduling availability, but they are also free to read over genetic counselor profiles and choose the genetic counselor who they feel is the best fit for them.
Grey Genetics does not share a patient’s information with insurance.
Grey Genetics does not accept insurance, although we will provide a receipt for patients who wish to submit a receipt to their insurance company for possible reimbursement. For patients who are self-referred, we leave the decision as to if and when to share genetic consultation notes with their physicians, hospitals, and insurers up to them. There is some security risk with any HIPAA-compliant system, but we are a tight circle, and many patients have expressed that they feel more comfortable speaking with a genetic counselor before deciding whether or not they want notes from that consultation to become part of their permanent medical record at a hospital with an EMR to which thousands of users have access.
Grey Genetics supports physicians who order genetic testing on their own.
Grey Genetics recognizes that genetics and genomics is becoming an important part of all different areas of medicine. Just referring out to genetic counseling isn’t always the best option for every practice. Often, a physician may be positioned to discuss the potential utility and limitations of a genetic test with a patient, particularly when results will have a direct impact on treatment or other medical management decisions that a physician will be making in collaboration with a patient.
Grey Genetics also works with researchers and health IT companies!
Grey Genetics’ Network of genetic counselors is also available to provide counseling to patients who are participating in research studies, whether it’s related to Polygenic Risk Scores, somatic tumor testing, or something else entirely! We also consult with health IT companies that want to make sure that they take into where clinical genetics is currently and where it’s headed as they build and roll out their products.
Meet the Founder
Eleanor Griffith, MS, CGC is a board certified genetic counselor and the founder of Grey Genetics. Her clinical experience includes both prenatal and cancer genetics, in both public and private academic hospital settings. She has also worked for genetic testing companies, including Phosphorus, an innovative Manhattan-based startup, and Myriad Genetics, the first company to commercialize hereditary cancer testing. In both roles, she provided clinical genetics support to physicians, genetic counselors and other healthcare providers.
Eleanor graduated from St. Olaf College in 2003 with a B.A. in English and from Sarah Lawrence College in 2011 with a M.S. in Human Genetics and an Advanced Certificate in Public Health Genetics/Genomics. Her thesis focused on heuristics: cognitive shortcuts that impact decision making and their relevance to genetic counseling. Before pursuing a career in genetic counseling, she worked in publishing, editing, and marketing. She also studied and traveled abroad in France and Latin America, where she learned French and Spanish.
Patient narratives, family dynamics and psychosocial issues are what drew Eleanor to genetic counseling initially and brought her back to working directly with patients again. She is also passionate about the potential for genetic testing to have a meaningful impact on public health. She is an avid supporter of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics (OPHG) and its goal to integrate appropriate testing for Hereditary Breast/Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, Lynch Syndrome, and Familial Hypercholesterolemia into public health practice. She is also passionate about working with physicians to help them incorporate clinically relevant genetic testing into their practices to meet these public health goals.
Eleanor is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the former Treasurer of the New York State Genetics Task Force. She is also a member of the Admissions Committee for The Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College, where she is also currently a Thesis Advisor and Course Instructor. Eleanor grew up in Olympia, WA as one of five siblings and has 10 nieces and nephews (the genetic equivalent of five children). She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. She is a native English speaker and is fluent in French and Spanish.
Elizabeth Sanders is Grey Genetics’ Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Covenant College in 2017 with a B.A in English. Elizabeth serves as Grey Genetics’ marketer, writer, editor, manager of social media, and web designer. A New England native, Elizabeth has worked with various startups, including her own photography company Sanders Three which she founded in 2015. She is passionate about quality branding, design, marketing analytics, and seamless user experience. Elizabeth has never purchased a 23andMe kit but will most likely cave in at some point.