Feb 14, 2022

Capstones to Careers: Jordan Sam

Medical Genomics
Jordan Sam, M.H.Sc.
By Vanessa Rokoszak

Jordan Sam is a 2020 graduate of the M.H.Sc. in Medical Genomics Program who is currently working as a genome analyst in Dr. Yvonne Bombard’s Lab at St. Michael’s Hospital. He began working in this role as a practicum student and was hired full-time after he graduated. Since then, Jordan’s role has expanded, and he’s now involved in several research projects as a Research Coordinator with the lab.

Jordan began his practicum in the Bombard lab as a genome analyst intern, where his primary role involved filtering and analyzing variants, and writing genetic test reports for the Incidental Genomics Study. This ongoing study aims to examine the preferences of patients receiving incidental results (meaning genetic testing results not related to the clinical reason they underwent genetic testing in the first place), as well as the outcomes and costs of returning incidental results among patients and the healthcare system. Patients who have a strong family history of cancer and who previously tested negative for any causative variants in cancer-related genes were recruited into this large study, where they had their exomes sequenced and analyzed by Jordan and the rest of the analysis team. In the analysis, they looked for variants related to single-gene disorders, polygenic disorders, and drug metabolism. In total, Jordan analyzed 15 patient exomes and interpreted over 300 variants. Jordan was also involved in multiple aspects of the research pipeline, including onboarding and consenting patients.

Since being hired on as a full-time analyst, Jordan has taken on additional responsibilities in the lab beyond his genome analysis work. In particular, he is involved in projects centered around policy research. As he explains, “policy development is crucial, as genomic sequencing becomes more common, we need to make sure it is being done in an ethical and effective way”. Following his interest, Jordan has taken the lead on a new study examining the socioeconomic impacts of receiving a hereditary cancer syndrome diagnosis. For example, he is interested in examining how a BRCA1 positive result can change someone’s life – including how the result may have impacted their psychological well-being, lifestyle choices, personal and professional relationships, and finances.

Jordan is passionate about this patient-centered approach to research:

“Asking patients about their experiences with the healthcare system can help identify gaps in their cancer care, and hopefully help develop guidelines to help mitigate those shortcomings. We need to get the message out there – this is what patients are experiencing, we need to do something about it.”

Jordan became fascinated by policy research after reading Dr. Yvonne Bombard’s paper about the genetic discrimination faced by people with Huntington’s Disease in MMG3005Y: Ethical and Legal Implications of Genomics, as he understood the impacts genomic technologies and genetic services can have on people’s lives. This interest led him to his Capstone Practicum project in the Bombard Lab, and now to his own research. We wish Jordan the best in all his endeavours.