Clarissa Flora Chan, Medical Genomics
In 2018, Clarissa began her academic journey as a novice genetics enthusiast in the Medical Genomics Program. Since graduating in 2020, Clarissa has been a clinical research coordinator for an exciting cancer genetics study. As Clarissa reflects upon the road that led her here, she is very grateful for the experiences she had and the wonderful people she has met along the way.
As an undergraduate student, Clarissa always had an interest in human genetics and its role in disease development. However, at the same time, she deeply gravitated towards the field of health care as an avid hospital volunteer and ophthalmic technician. Clarissa was blissfully unaware that one day, she would be able to both achieve her goal of helping to improve the health of Canadians and apply her interest in human genetics.
While Clarissa was a Medical Genomics student, she came across pivotal opportunities that helped shape her career path. She was introduced to many enthusiastic professionals from the genomics field - all of whom were quite different, but were united in the quest to improve medicine using genomic technology. Clarissa then volunteered on a cancer project she was passionate about, and gained useful skills interpreting genetic information. Her next milestone was landing a summer job at a fantastic Canadian cancer organization that led nation-wide initiatives to improve cancer control. Fast forward to the next year, and she completed her practicum placement with a remarkable genomics study focused on cancer patients. Looking back now, Clarissa did not know that all her experiences would lead her to become a clinical research coordinator, but she is glad it did.
Today, Clarissa is able to apply her genetics knowledge in a study using cutting edge genomic technology and contribute towards the fight against cancer. A large part of her current role also involves interacting with patients at various stages of their cancer journey, which although at times can be tough, is very rewarding. Fulfilling this role during a pandemic has also been eye-opening, as Clarissa saw firsthand just how important cancer care is.
On a global perspective, many aspects of life have come to a halt because of COVID-19. However, unlike social lives, cancer does not take a break. During these difficult times, health care professionals push on, despite the numerous hurdles they face. Clarissa feels extremely lucky to work closely along these dedicated heroes, and to meet the amazing cancer warriors who participate in their research. Clarissa truly believes that genomics will play an even bigger role in cancer care for years to come as scientists continue to unlock aspects of the cancer genome, and she looks forward to seeing the medical advances that will arise from genomics research.
To learn more about Clarissa, visit her LinkedIn profile, or to see some of her nature photography which she enjoys outside of work, visit her Instagram page.