Member Spotlight: Shashi Shetty

1.    What is your name?                
Shashi Shetty PhD, FCCMG, FACMG

2.  What is your professional title?
Director, Cytogenetics Laboratory, Center for Human Genetics Laboratory, UHCMC  University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center; Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University  (UHCMC) and Case Western Reserve University; Program Director, Laboratory Genetics and Genomics (LGG) Fellowship  (CWRU), Cleveland, Ohio; Laboratory Director, National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC)

3.    How did you decide to enter the field/what (or who) brought you into the field?

You could call it either destiny or persistence.In the early 90’s I was mostly interested in harvesting and preserving cadaveric heart valves. I was looking at the viability of cryopreservation. Then regulations came out that made harvesting heart valves much more difficult.

Then, by chance, I happened to attend a lecture on cytogenetics in Mumbai and was intrigued by the FISH images. I was fascinated by the interphase and metaphase FISH images.It was akin gazing upon a clear night sky in the countryside. I talked to the presenter afterwards.He was a professor of clinical cytogenetics.One thing led to another, and he asked me if I was interested in visiting his lab in France and I said yes without thinking too much about it. I sent multiple follow-up emails using dial-up internet and hoped to hear back. A few months later, I received a facsimile from the professor with an invitation to visit his lab.That was my first exposure to cytogenetics in a well-established clinical laboratory, which eventually led to the Calgary Alberta children’s program. The rest is history.

4.    What do you do?  How would you describe your role?
As the director of cytogenetics laboratory, I ensure high-quality patient testing, bring in new assays to meet clinical needs and support technologists training in cytogenetics specialty. The molecular laboratory that I lead at the NPDPSC / CWRU provide patients and their families with timely diagnosis of genetic prion disease.  The molecular prion gene testing helps with subtyping sporadic prion disease. This work is also critical for surveillance of prion disease in the United States.  On the research front, I was fortunate to receive a CJD Foundation grant to examine the role of copy number variations in the genome with respect to prion disease.  In addition, as the program director of the LGG program at UHCMC, I train the next generation laboratory geneticists

5.    What degree(s) and/or training did you receive to achieve your position?

I received a B.S. degree in microbiology, M.S. degree in medical microbiology and immunology and Ph.D. in microbiology/ cytogenetics.  I did my clinical cytogenetics in Canada and boarded both by Canadian College of Medical Geneticist (CCMG) and American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG).  I am also board certified in molecular genetics aka Laboratory Genetics Genomics (LGG) fellowship.

6.     What is the greatest challenge you face in your work?
The greatest challenge I face especially in the post-pandemic era is staffing turn over, recruitment of qualified staff and striving to do more with less resources to keep up with the hard time.I wish I had more than 24 hours in a day so I can move at a pace I would like to see.

7.    What is the best part of your work as you see it? (most interesting, most fun…)
At the end of the day, knowing my work makes a difference in the professional lives of colleagues, peers, lab members and above all my patients through high quality laboratory services, keeping the workplace progressive, and improving access to education is gratifying.

8.    Optional follow up question _What do you do for fun?__________
Cooking made easy with my secret spice recipe (I make it from scratch!)

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