Member Spotlight: T. Niroshi Senaratne

  1. What is your name?
    T. Niroshi Senaratne, PhD, FACMG
  2. What is your professional title?
    Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of California Los Angeles; Associate Laboratory Director, UCLA Clinical Cytogenetics & Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories; Associate Program Director, Laboratory Genetics & Genomics Fellowship
  3. How did you decide to enter the field/What (or who) brought you into the field?
    I have had a long-standing interest in genetics – I remember watching Jurassic Park when I was young and being fascinated by the science behind the story. As a graduate student, I worked in a lab studying chromosome biology with Professor Ting Wu at Harvard Medical School, who inspired me with her passion for solving puzzles and trying to understand unexplained phenomena. It was during this time that I fell in love with looking at chromosomes and using technologies such as fluorescence in situ hybridization or FISH. While I enjoyed basic research, I started becoming more interested in the clinical applications of these technologies and understanding genetic variation seen in humans. I was fortunate to be able to interact with some of the cytogenetics faculty at my institution as well as the cytogenetics post-doctoral fellow at the time, who were very welcoming and openly shared with me their experiences in the field and the path they took to get there. Inspired by these experiences, I applied for a postdoctoral fellowship program in clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics (today known as “laboratory genetics and genomics” or LGG), which led me to my current position.
  4. What do you do? How would you describe your role?
    I serve as a clinical laboratory director in an academic hospital, so the majority of my time is spent in reviewing and signing out the results of diagnostic testing. My clinical responsibilities are split between the cytogenetics and molecular diagnostics laboratories, and cover a broad range of genetic testing applications ranging from prenatal diagnosis, constitutional testing for rare diseases, and cancer genomics. In addition, I play a significant role in education of trainees who rotate in our laboratories including trainees in pathology, maternal-fetal medicine, and clinical genetics, as well as our LGG fellows. My research interests include genetics of hematologic malignancies and genetic variation in rare diseases.
  5. What degree(s) and/or training did you receive to achieve your position?

    Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Harvard University
    PhD in Genetics and Genomics, Harvard University
    ABMGG Clinical Cytogenetics Fellowship, University of California Los Angeles
    ABMGG Clinical Molecular Genetics Fellowship, University of California Los Angeles

  6. What is the greatest challenge you face in your work?
    Balancing time between different activities is always a challenge! In particular with a busy clinical case load it can be difficult to find time to devote to research and other projects.
  7. What is the best part of your work as you see it? (most interesting, fun…)
    Laboratory genetics is a relatively small field and is very collaborative and friendly. I really enjoy meeting with colleagues from other institutions through AMP and other professional organizations, and learning from their experiences. In addition, I really love the variety of my work – each week brings new puzzles to solve!
  8. Optional follow up question: What do you do for fun?
    I enjoy visiting the beautiful beaches and national parks in California, cooking and trying new cuisines, dancing, movie night with friends, and spending time with family whenever I can.

Corporate Partners