National Conference on Integration of Genomics in Nursing and Healthcare Practice (Hybrid Mode)

February 20, 2023

Manipal College of Nursing (MCON), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal organized the “National Conference on Integration of Genomics in Nursing and Healthcare Practice" on 16th and 17th February 2023 through a hybrid mode.

The inauguration of the Conference was held on 16th February 2023, at 9:30 am in blended mode at the Sharada Hall, MCHP, Manipal. The Chief Guest, Dr. B Unnikrishnan, Dean, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, MAHE, focused on the Integration of Genomics in Nursing and Healthcare Practice. He stressed the importance of genomics in nursing research and the role of nursing professionals in genomics to reduce the global burden of disease and mortality. He said genomics plays a vital role in risk identification, preventive diagnosis, health promotion, and treatment. Dr. Unnikrishnan also emphasized the importance of genomic sequencing in developing vaccines for Covid-19 in a short span of time. He congratulated the entire team of MCON for organizing this conference.

Dr. Judith A Noronha, Dean, and Organizing Chairperson of the conference, MCON, Manipal presented the welcome address and introduced the Chief Guest, Dr. B Unnikrishnan to the gathering. Dr. Shashidhara Y N, Professor and Head, Department of Community Health Nursing, MCON, Manipal, and the Convenor of the conference gave the overview of the conference.  The traditional lamp was lit by the dignitaries, Dr. Judith Angelitta Noronha, Dr. B Unnikrishnan, Dr. Shashidhara Y N, and the co-convenor Dr. Sushmitha Ramona Karkada. The inaugural program was concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Sushmitha Ramona Karkada, Assistant Professor - Senior Scale, Dept of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Nursing, MCON, Manipal, and Co-convener of the Conference. The event was compered by Mrs. Prima J J D’Souza, Asst. Professor,  Department of Fundamentals of Nursing, MCON, Manipal. 

The conference had scientific sessions by leading speakers from across the country on both days including paper and poster presentations.  The conference was funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. 

Report Day 1: 16th February 2023

The conference started with the plenary session on “Nursing in Genomics Era” by Dr. Anice George, Professor, Department of Child Health (Paediatric) Nursing, MCON, MAHE, Manipal on 16th February 2023, at 10:30 am. Dr. George sensitized about genomics in nursing, by briefly highlighting the recent advances and the value of genetics in nursing. She emphasized the importance of faculty training through CNE programs to prepare nurses for befitting roles. Dr. George addressed nurses as pivotal in providing quality healthcare services by increasing the use of genetic and genomic technologies to screen, diagnose, and treat rare and common diseases. She also expressed the necessity of exploratory research in genomics in nursing by giving attention to patient outcomes associated with genomic interventions. 

The second plenary session of the conference was on “Genetic Disorders and Prevention” by Prof. Jayarama S. Kadandale, Director, Centre for Human Genetics, Bangalore. Dr. Kadandale started the session online by highlighting the role of clinical and molecular cytogenetics in diagnosing genetic disorders. Prof Kadandale also stressed the reasons for genetic study.  Explaining the various genetic disorders, he stressed the diagnostic investigations for identifying various diseases especially, FISH. Dr. Kadandale concluded the session by highlighting the recent updates in prenatal diagnosis, cytogenetics, and molecular genetic studies. 

The third plenary session was by Dr. Anju Shukla, Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, Kasturba Medical College, MAHE, Manipal on “Genetic Counselling”. Dr. Shukla gave a brief overview of the importance of Genetic Counselling and the classification of genetic mechanisms. She elaborated on non-directiveness vs shared decision-making, and communication in genetic counseling for helping families with genetic problems. The session was concluded by highlighting the importance of collecting appropriate and recent information in practice for the need of the hour. 

A guest talk by the sponsor was delivered by Ms. Namratha Kamath, Operations Head – Abhinava Global Academy on GTEC (Global Training and Education Centre). Ms. Kamath motivated the participants by giving an overview of the NHS (National Health Service) benefits, criteria, and the pathway on how to go through the GTEC program. In her discourse, she elaborated on how to enter into NHS healthcare and upskill a career in nursing. Two more sessions of orientation were given for M.Sc., P.B.B.Sc., and Masters students from Sikkim Manipal University on one-to-one interaction. A total of 19 students took part in the orientation.

­­­The next session of the day was deliberated by Dr. Shama Prasad, Associate Professor, Dept of Cell & Molecular Biology, Manipal School of Life Science, MAHE on “Genomics in Health Equity”. In his discourse, he spoke on epigenetics and its role and also emphasized on global applicability of genomic knowledge to access genomic services such as testing and counseling. By focusing on health equity research, he pointed out the high mortality of cervical cancer rates due to delays in detection. Dr. Prasad concluded the session by emphasizing the Double C2-like domain Beta (DOC2B), and its role in cervical cancer progression, invasion, and metastasis, with scientific evidence.

Plenary session 5 was on “Application of Genomics Knowledge in Nursing Education and Healthcare Practice” by Dr. Judith Angelitta Noronha, Professor & Dean, Manipal College of Nursing, MAHE, Manipal. Dr. Noronha briefed on genomic literacy by highlighting the importance of incorporating genomics in education, and the relevance of genomics in nursing education.  Considering the importance of genomics in healthcare practice, she also elaborated on the genomic competencies of all health professionals. She also stressed the role of nurses in identifying rare diseases. Dr. Noronha concluded her session by accentuating the fact of genomics and identifying the potential of nurses using genetics and genomics information to optimize quality healthcare outcomes. 

The last plenary session of the day was delivered by Dr. Rajasekharan Warrier. M.D, Paediatric Hemat/ Oncologist, Ochsner Children’s Hospital, USA on “Genetics and Childhood Cancer and Haematological Disorders”. Dr. Warrier elaborated on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and influence of growth factors in causing cancer, proto-oncogenes, and its replicative immortality. He further accentuated the importance of gene therapy, molecular therapy, and target therapy in playing important role in cancer treatment.  He also described the role of the environment in causing cancer in children. Dr. Warrier concluded by highlighting the exposure of endosulfan.

This session was followed by e-poster presentations by 8 participants in blended mode. A total of 31 posters were displayed onsite.

Report Day 2: 17th February 2023

Day 2 of the conference started with the seventh plenary session online on the topic “From Bedside to Bench and Back: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Genomic Diagnoses” by Dr. Parneet Kaur, Postdoctoral Associate, Dept. of Molecular and Human Genetics, Dr. James R Lupski’s Laboratory, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston on 17th of February 2023 at 9.00 am. In the session, Dr. Kaur spoke on the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing genetic disorders. She elaborated on the clinical evaluation, findings, and genetic testing. By briefing on the role of specific genes like ISCAI, ANKRD17, and TRAPPC4 in developing genetic disorders and their diagnosis Dr. Kaur concluded her session by extending her gratitude to all the collaborators who were involved in the analysis and publication of medical genetic data.

The eighth Plenary session of the conference was on “Genomics in Healthcare: Entering into the era of personalized therapeutics” by Dr. Ranajith Das, Assistant Professor, Division of Data Analytics, Bioinformatics, and Structural Biology, Yenepoya Research Centre, Deralakatte, Mangalore. In the session, Dr. Das gave a general overview of population genetics and how it influences the genetic makeup of people from different geographical areas. He highlighted specific population variants in association with neuro-psychological disorders by explaining genome-wide association studies and serotonin transporter genes. He stressed the post-COVID-19 sequelae among people who were affected. Dr. Das concluded the session by emphasizing germline variants which can increase the susceptibility towards certain cancers.

The next session of the day was deliberated by Dr. Mittesh Shetty, Head, and Consultant, Dept. of Medical Genetics, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore on “Diagnosis Innovations in Genomics”. In his discourse, he focused on the significant contributions of Chromosome Microarray (CMA), and the role of biomarkers in confirming and diagnosing genetic disorders, and presented various cases of prenatally diagnosed chromosomal disorders. By pointing out the challenges of invasive and non-invasive genetic tests (NIPS, CfDNA, PGT) one over the other in their application & use in prenatal screening Dr. Shetty concluded his session by quoting “It’s not about technology but it’s about biology”. 

The tenth Plenary session of the conference was on “Hemophilia clinic and Role of Nurse Leader” by Dr. Sulochana B, Associate Professor, Manipal College of Nursing, Manipal Academy of Higher Education. In the session, Dr. Sulochana gave a general overview of hemophilia and its impact and problems in terms of mortality, disability, and treatment. Elaborating on the principles of hemophilia care, Dr. Sulochana discussed the importance of a hemophilia nurse in the team. She also highlighted the key components of the chronic hemophilia care model and ways to implement it. By highlighting the importance of information technology, and ways to empower patients by coordinating, Dr. Sulochana concluded her session by stressing nurses being able to educate, support and collaborate as hemophilia nurse specialists and outlined the benefits that can bring positive outcomes in hemophilia patients by discussing the activities of hemophilia society and coordination of comprehensive clinic. 

The session was started by the moderator Dr. Elsa Sanatombi Devi by introducing the topic. Dr. Radhika D Shenoy discussed genetic etiologies by mentioning genetic red flags. She highlighted the link of professionals from various health disciplines who can contribute to the confirmation of the diagnosis of genetic disorders. Dr. Shenoy concluded her talk by stressing on better coordination and collaboration being the core approach to managing genetic disorders. The panelist Dr. Lakshmipriya Rao outlined genetic counseling by elaborating on the roles and responsibilities of genetic counsellors by highlighting the matter of consideration in acquiring and providing information, discussing the benefits and risks, and interpreting genetic test results. The next speaker Dr. Priya Thomas discussed the issues that can occur in different contexts especially psychosocial issues in genetic counseling and the need to manage and alleviate the problems through an effective approach. The last panelist, Dr. Guruprasad stressed the role of nursing professionals and the importance of integrating traditional and conventional knowledge on genetics as this can bring remarkable changes in the clinical practice. The moderator thanked all the panelists for their active involvement and participation throughout the panel discussion.

The sessions were followed by scientific oral presentations by the participants. A total of 17 oral onsite paper presentations and 22 online paper presentations were presented simultaneously in five halls.

A total of 227 participants attended the conference from across the different states of the country. Karnataka -133; Andhra Pradesh- 08; Assam- 3; Chhattisgarh- 2; Goa- 2; Haryana- 2; Himachal Pradesh- 2; Kerala- 12; Madhya Pradesh- 4; Maharashtra- 5; Nagaland- 1; Rajasthan- 3; Sikkim- 30; Tamil Nādu- 3; Uttar Pradesh- 8; West Bengal- 7.

The conference ended with a closing ceremony and an expression of gratitude to all. Dean, Dr. Judith A Noronha, gave the closing remarks. Best papers and posters were awarded. The participants appreciated the conference through feedback.