Program Leadership

The genetic counseling program is overseen by a team of diverse leaders with specialized experience in a variety of specialty areas.

Genetic Counseling Program Director

Jodie M. Vento, MGC, LCGC

Jodie M. VentoJodie M. Vento is the Director of the Genetic Counseling Program and an Assistant Professor of Human Genetics. After completing undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005, Jodie earned a Masters in Genetic Counseling from the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore in 2008. She worked as a genetic counselor and neurogenetics program coordinator at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, before joining Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 2012. At UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Jodie managed an innovative program called the Center for Rare Disease Therapy. In her role at Children’s Hospital, Jodie worked extensively with payers to develop shared processes and resources to increase the coverage and reimbursement of genetic testing. 

Jodie is the Insurance Alignment Committee Chair for the Patient-Centered Laboratory Guidance Services (PLUGS) Group out of Seattle Children’s Hospital. Jodie is also an active member of NSGC and is currently on the Board of Directors. In her role at NSGC, she has served as the chair of the Access and Service Delivery committee and the co-chair of the Test Utilization Subcommittee within the Industry SIG. Jodie is also the Founder and Past President of the Pennsylvania Association of Genetic Counselors. Jodie serves as the Genetics Faculty for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Related Disorders (LEND) Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Throughout her career, Jodie has worked closely with rare disease community and will continue this work through the Pennsylvania Rare Disease Advisory Council (PARDAC).

Jodie’s teaching interests are in genetic testing technologies, neurogenetics, psychosocial counseling and general pediatrics. Her research interests include rare disease, access to genomic services, and payer policies.

Associate Genetic Counseling Program Director

Andrea L. Durst, MS, DRPH, LCGC

Andrea L. DurstDr. Durst is the Associate Director of the Genetic Counseling Program and the Director of the MPH Program in Public Health Genetics. She joins the program with extensive experience in clinical cancer genetic counseling, management, and public health genetics. Dr. Durst's teaching interests are in genetic counseling and public health genetics. She provides support in Genetic Counseling Program development and is engaged in teaching, student research, and the coordination of student clinical rotations.

Dr. Durst’s research interests include public health genetics and cancer genetics. Specifically, she is interested in the state implementation of CDC Tier 1 Genomic Applications for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome, Lynch syndrome and Familial Hypercholesterolemia. She is currently working with a number of stakeholders on public health genetics projects, including the PA Cancer Control Plan, NYMAC Regional Genetics Network, and the Inter-Society Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics (ISCC-PEG).  She is the past Secretary/Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Association of Genetic Counselors (PAGC).    

Director of Curriculum

Robin E. Grubs, MS, PHD, LCGC

Robin E. GrubsDr. Grubs's teaching interests are in genetic counseling and clinical genetics. She is responsible for the course work for the graduate program in Genetic Counseling and lectures in genetics courses taught in the Department of Human Genetics and the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Dr. Grubs is interested in the development of genetic educational programs for health care professionals and the general public.

Dr. Grubs' research interests include decision making related to genetic testing, the psychosocial aspects of living with genetic risk, and genetic counseling service delivery models. She has published on genetic counseling education, psychosocial effects of genetic testing, and the use of qualitative methods, particularly grounded theory, in genetic counseling research.

Director of Recruitment and Admissions

Christine Munro, MS, MPH, LCGC

Christine MunroChristine Munro is the Director of Recruitment and Admissions for the Genetic Counseling program and has held an adjunct faculty position since 2017. Christine’s primary role within the program is to lead the holistic applicant review process with the program’s admissions committee and develop recruitment strategies. Christine also works as a genetic counselor for the UPMC Primary Care Precision Medicine Clinic, which includes the role of clinical site supervisor for the program’s primary care rotation. 

Christine is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Genetic Counseling program and Public Health Genetics program. She has expertise working in several specialty areas including neurogenetics, bone marrow failure, pharmacogenomics, primary care, and laboratory test stewardship. Christine’s research and clinical interests center around innovative ways to scale genetic service delivery with the goal of increasing access to equitable, quality care. 

Genetic Counseling Program Medical Director

Damara N. Oritz, MD

Damara N. OritzDr. Damara Ortiz is the Medical Director of the Genetic Counseling Program, having joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. Dr. Ortiz is a clinical geneticist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC where she works with patients who have a variety of complex and rare metabolic conditions. Dr. Ortiz is also currently the director of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s large lysosomal storage disorder program. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Ortiz has a strong interest in teaching. She is the director of the Medical Genetics residency training program. She has served in teaching and supervision roles since her medical genetic fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Prior to her fellowship, Dr. Ortiz completed her pediatric residency at New York University/Tisch Hospital and Bellevue Hospital and received her medical degree at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.