Friday May 12, 2023

#236 Assessing for Alzheimer’s Disease with Quest Diagnostics

If you are listening to a genetics podcast, then I know you are a nerd that also likes reading genetic books and watching genetics movies and shows. There aren’t many genetics clubs out there for nerds like us, so we launched a Patreon where we could do just that! This is the benefit that was asked for the most when we were designing our Patreon was an exclusive monthly club where we chat about a genetics book or movie or we focus on mentorship in becoming a genetic counselor (like application/interview insight and boards prep). So if you want to be in these live Zooms with me and our team, sign up now! 


Shoutout to our new Patrons Molly, Emily, Cristina, Wesley , Hannah, Amanda, Lynn, Ashlyn, and Sanya ! Join our Patreon community here. If you sign up by May 25th I will throw in an extra gift in the mail for you!

Join our Patreon community here. If you sign up by May 25th I will throw in an extra gift in the mail for you! 


Alzheimer’s is the most feared health condition of later life among retirees, ranking higher than COVID-19, cancer, heart attack and stroke (Reference). Answers from risk assessments and diagnostic testing can help clinicians and those dealing with cognitive decline in themselves or loved ones choose a path forward. As the Alzheimer’s and dementia fields evolve and as new therapies come out, new diagnostic tools are also being developed with the goal of providing answers that are accessible.


With all of these new diagnostic advancements, it can be challenging for clinicians to determine what to order and when. Susan Hahn, a genetic counselor and expert in the field of Alzheimer’s disease, is joining us from Quest Diagnostics to speak on the newest risk assessment advances including some recently launched tests from Quest and what patient types they make the most sense for.


Providing the patient perspective, we have Rebecca Chopp joining us from the University of Chicago. Rebecca was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about three years ago, and currently serves on the board of Voices of Alzheimer’s as an advocate. She’ll be joining us to speak on her experience receiving a diagnosis and how she has since learned to “live with joy”.


Rebecca Chopp, Ph.D., is a widely published author, editor, and academic in the fields of education, philosophy, religion, and feminism. She served as the 18th, and first female, Chancellor of the University of Denver. She was additionally President of Swarthmore College and Colgate University, and she served as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Emory University and as a Dean at Yale University. Chopp has served on the Governing Board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Olin University, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and American Council on Education.  Currently, Rebecca is an Alzheimer's Advocate who serves on the Board of the Colorado Alzheimer's Association, paints classical portraits and hikes, bikes and walks Buhdy, her dog.  An ordained minister, she is currently working on a book entitled Art, Spirit, Body: Ways to Live While Dying from Alzheimer's. 


Susan Hahn, MS, CGC is a highly accomplished, strategic, and charismatic genetics professional who spent the past two decades initiating and leading research, outreach, education, and policy activities to facilitate and expand the responsible translation of genomic medicine in the clinical setting. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, encyclopedia entries and chapters. As a result of her long-standing interest in professional, public, and childhood education, she has development and administered numerous undergraduate and graduate courses, public outreach events, web resources, conferences, and print materials. As an active leader, Susan has Chaired or Co-chaired numerous committees and task forces for ABGC and NSGC. In 2014, she was President of the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Susan currently works for Quest Diagnostics as Director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research. 


On This Episode We Discuss:

  • An overview of Alzheimer's disease, how it affects the brain and cognition, and some of the early signs and symptoms
  • Genes implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and how they are inherited 
  • The relationship of the APOE gene to Alzheimer’s disease and the three alleles (e2, e3, e4) and how they correlate to risk for developing the condition
  • Chris Hemsworth and the APOE e4 allele
  • Recommendations for pursuing genetic testing and the limitations of these tests
  • Quest’s diagnostic blood test and future applications
  • Recommendations to mitigate risk in individuals that have 1 to 2 copies of the e4 version of the APOE gene 
  • Options for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Rebecca’s diagnostic odyssey, how she has coped with her diagnosis, and how art and spirituality have aided in her positive mindset 

You can connect with our guest, Susan Hahn, on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you’re interested in learning more about Quest Diagnostics and their Alzheimer’s blood test, you can visit their website, or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram


If you’re interested in learning more about the patient experience with Alzheimer’s disease, you can check out this Washington Post article featuring Rebecca Chopp that we mentioned in this episode and features Rebecca Chopp, the movie Still Alice, Alzheimer's Association, and Voices of Alzheimer’s.


Stay tuned for the next new episode of DNA Today on May 19th, 2023, where we’ll be exploring the utilization of digital tools to reach patients who can benefit from cancer genetic counseling. Our guest is Australian genetic counselor, Michelle Bowman.


Episodes are released every Friday. In the meantime, you can binge over 235 other episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, streaming on the website, or any other podcast player by searching, “DNA Today”. Episodes since 2021 are also recorded with video which you can watch on our YouTube channel


DNA Today is hosted and produced by Kira Dineen. Our social media lead is Corinne Merlino. Our video lead is Amanda Andreoli. Our Outreach Intern is Sanya Tinaikar. Our Social Media Intern is Kajal Patel. And our Graphic Designer Ashlyn Enokian. 


See what else we are up to on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and our website, Questions/inquiries can be sent to


Want to become a genetic counselor? Looking for ways to engage with the field and boost your resume for grad school applications? Then you should check out Sarah Lawrence’s “Why Genetic Counseling Wednesday Summer Series”! Every Wednesday this June (plus the last Wednesday in May) Sarah Lawrence is hosting a series where you can interact through Zoom with genetic counselors from different specialties. It kicks off on May 31st! You can sign up at Again visit to register to level up your resume for applications in the fall. (Sponsored) 

As a listener of DNA Today, you probably heard me talk about NIPT, non-invasive prenatal screening, that looks for extra or missing chromosome conditions during pregnancy. But did you know there is one that can also screen for recessive disorders (like cystic fibrosis) and fetal antigens? BillionToOne offers UNITY Screen, which does all this from one blood draw from a pregnant person. Visit for more info. Listen to DNA Today Episode #224 Single Gene NIPT and #225 Fetal Antigen NIPT. (Sponsored)

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