Impacts of incorporating personal genome sequencing into graduate genomics education: A longitudinal study over three course years

Michael D. Linderman, Saskia C. Sanderson, Ali Bashir, George A. Diaz, Andrew Kasarskis, Randi Zinberg, Milind Mahajan, Sabrina A. Suckiel, Micol Zweig, Eric E. Schadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: To address the need for more effective genomics training, beginning in 2012 the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has offered a unique laboratory-style graduate genomics course, "Practical Analysis of Your Personal Genome" (PAPG), in which students optionally sequence and analyze their own whole genome. We hypothesized that incorporating personal genome sequencing (PGS) into the course pedagogy could improve educational outcomes by increasing student motivation and engagement. Here we extend our initial study of the pilot PAPG cohort with a report on student attitudes towards genome sequencing, decision-making, psychological wellbeing, genomics knowledge and pedagogical engagement across three course years. Methods: Students enrolled in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 course years completed questionnaires before (T1) and after (T2) a prerequisite workshop (n = 110) and before (T3) and after (T4) PAPG (n = 66). Results: Students' interest in PGS was high; 56 of 59 eligible students chose to sequence their own genome. Decisional conflict significantly decreased after the prerequisite workshop (T2 vs. T1 p < 0.001). Most, but not all students, reported low levels of decision regret and test-related distress post-course (T4). Each year baseline decisional conflict decreased (p < 0.001) suggesting, that as the course became more established, students increasingly made their decision prior to enrolling in the prerequisite workshop. Students perceived that analyzing their own genome enhanced the genomics pedagogy, with students self-reporting being more persistent and engaged as a result of analyzing their own genome. More than 90% of respondents reported spending additional time outside of course assignments analyzing their genome. Conclusions: Incorporating personal genome sequencing in graduate medical education may improve student motivation and engagement. However, more data will be needed to quantitatively evaluate whether incorporating PGS is more effective than other educational approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalBMC Medical Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2018


  • Genomics education
  • Personal genome sequencing
  • Whole genome sequencing


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