IQMH brings together experts in the field of laboratory medicine to elevate confidence in the healthcare system.
The IQMH Proficiency Testing Scientific Committees are composed of physicians, technologists and scientists who provide advice to IQMH regarding the fundamental design of Proficiency Testing surveys and ensure that clinically-relevant selection of challenges and appropriate performance evaluation are developed and implemented each year.
IQMH is grateful for the commitment and support of the medical laboratory community and appreciates all the volunteers who donate their time and valuable expertise to our programs.
It’s our privilege to recognize Dr. Kathy Chun, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG, who has served IQMH as a volunteer since 2004.
After completing her doctorate at the University of Toronto, Dr. Chun completed her Clinical Cytogenetics Fellowship, followed by the Clinical Molecular Genetics Fellowship, with the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG), the governing body of medical geneticists in Canada. She worked several years at the University Health Network and North York General Hospital, and is now the Clinical Laboratory Director in Genome Diagnostics at the Hospital for Sick Children, where she completed her graduate and post-graduate training. Genetic and genomic diagnostic testing has been evolving at a rapid pace for the last 20 years, initiated by the sequencing of the human genome in 2000 and fueled by advances in new technologies. The ability to test extensive regions of the human genome by these new technologies has and continues to drive understanding of the pathobiology of human disease. In addition, precision medicine is now fundamentally changing the delivery of healthcare, where we are moving away from a “one size fits all” approach and towards prevention and treatment strategies tailored to individuals, informed by specific genetic changes. Dr. Chun’s extensive experience in various patient care centres, each with a different patient focus, has afforded her the opportunity to enable the transition of new genomic findings to clinical genetic testing in different clinical arenas. In addition, her long-standing interest in laboratory quality improvement has led to leading roles in professional organizations that provide guidance and education in these areas, as well as participation in consultative, advisory and educational activities with the goal of assisting other genetics laboratories with the provision of high-quality test results for patient care.
We asked Dr. Chun the following questions about her volunteer experience and here's how she responded:
Which scientific committee do you volunteer on and how long have you served?
I am currently a member of the Genetics Scientific Committee. I have been a member of this Committee for many years: 2004–2009 and 2012–present, during which I was the Vice-Chair 2014–2018 and the Chair 2019–2021.
Do you volunteer on committees with other professional organizations?
I have been on several committees for the CCMG, most notably on the Examinations Committee. I have served on the Examinations Committee since 2006 and continue to do so, most recently as Chair since 2012. I have been the Medical Advisor for the Genetics Exam Panel of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) since 2013. I volunteer as a Laboratory Inspector with the College of American Pathologists (CAP). I also have and continue to serve on several provincial committees, including with Cancer Care Ontario and the Provincial Genetics Group.
Do you have any achievements that you are particularly proud of through your work with the scientific committee?
The Genetics Scientific Committee designs and implements the genetics proficiency testing program to assist laboratories within Ontario and across Canada with maintenance and improvement of quality genetic testing. The proficiency testing menu has evolved over the years with the advancement of technology, and it continues to strive for innovative ways deliver a high-quality proficiency testing program for our clients.
One of the highlights of the past couple of years has been the publication of a national prenatal patterns-of-practice survey in a premier prenatal journal, Prenatal Diagnosis. Chromosome abnormalities are recognized as a common cause of miscarriage and congenital anomalies. Development of molecular cytogenetic tools has allowed for the detection of small, potentially clinically significant copy number changes that traditional karyotype analysis is not capable of. This study provides a national overview of the available technologies in clinical cytogenetics laboratories and their use in the prenatal and perinatal settings. This study highlights the emerging trends in prenatal/perinatal cytogenetic testing, and despite a universal healthcare system in Canada, a uniform common practice is not apparent. The results of this study can be used by laboratories to advocate for additional resources if local practices are not aligned with these trends. This will minimize the disparity in genetic testing and hopefully lead to equal access to uniform prenatal/perinatal genetic testing for all Canadian patients.
What would you say to someone considering volunteering on a scientific committee?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering on the Genetics Scientific Committee. This Committee provides a valuable service to the clinical laboratories in maintaining high quality genetic testing to patients. I have enjoyed my time with this Committee and have had the opportunity to work with tremendous colleagues in the field of genetics, as well as with the wonderful staff at IQMH. If you are interested in quality laboratory services, I would highly encourage you to volunteer on a IQMH Scientific Committee. It not only builds your skills as a quality laboratorian, but it also provides an opportunity to meet, work and share ideas with a diverse group of specialists in your discipline. These interactions are extremely rewarding!