Genetic counselor Bonnie R. Braddock will receive the Humanitarian Award from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY Saturday at the annual gala, held at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino.
Braddock has been at Upstate since 1997. She is a native of DeWitt who returned to Central New York after starting her career in Los Angeles and then the Boston area. She was a biology major who took a course in genetics “and just loved it,” she says.
“It was a great mix for me because it deals with the science of genetics but also, you talk to people.”
Most of the people Braddock talks to have concerns about cancer. They come to her for genetic counseling.
“Before we even think about genetic testing, the question is, could there be a hereditary risk factor? The great majority of cancers are not hereditary,” she says, “but certainly there are families where there is a hereditary gene.”
There’s a difference between genetics and heredity. Genetics refers to some kind of change in a gene, and most changes that are tied to cancers are sporadic. Not all diseases that are genetic are hereditary, or passed from parents to child.
The field of genetics is changing so rapidly that Braddock is constantly learning of advances. “It’s so cool to see how far we’ve come from where we were even 10 years ago. We are able to do things now that we weren’t routinely offering a year ago.”
Braddock says she is grateful for the honor from the Baldwin foundation and for the research the group continues to fund at Upstate.