We are committed to providing quality, up-to-date, evidence-based genomic resources that are developed, evaluated and easily accessible for primary care providers and specialists alike. Our GECKO team is small but mighty. Drs. Allanson and Carroll have worked together for many years on genomics education, implementation, and evaluation research projects. They have been part of teams and committees provincially, nationally and internationally. In 2011, they seized a rare opportunity that allowed for the continued support of genomics education. They co-founded GECKO with supportive enthusiasm and commitment from leadership at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and with in-kind support from Sinai Health and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at University of Toronto. Drs. Allanson and Carroll continue to dedicate their time and expertise on a volunteer basis as co-directors. Day-to-day GECKO activities have been managed by genetic counsellor, Ms. Shawna Morrison, since 2012. In August 2022, GECKO was pleased to welcome Dr. Sakina Walji as our new Associate Director. In collaboration with this leadership team, we work closely with the Department of Genetics at CHEO, including department chief, Dr. Kym Boycott, and director, Gabrielle Mettler. Read below to find out more about us.
Judith E. Allanson, MB ChB FRCP FRCPC FCCMG DABMG
Co-director and co-founder
I am a retired clinical geneticist, previously Chief of Genetics at CHEO and Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Ottawa. I received my MB ChB (Hons) degree from Liverpool Medical School and trained in Internal Medicine in the UK. I completed a Fellowship in Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia under the mentorship of Dr Judith G Hall. I have a longstanding interest in the diagnosis and management of common genetic syndromes. When not working on GECKO activities I love to be outdoors, hiking, biking, and learning more about nature writ large. I particularly enjoy international travel, seeing firsthand the diversity of birds and plants on all 7 continents. When indoors, I enjoy reading, music and writing.
June C. Carroll, MD CCFP FCFP
Co-director and co-founder
I hold the Sydney G. Frankfort Chair in Family Medicine and am a Professor and Clinician Scientist in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at University of Toronto. I am a family physician at the Ray D. Wolfe Department of Family Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Sinai Health, in Toronto. I am a member of the Ontario Genetics Advisory Committee, Health Ontario, member of the Ontario Provincial Genetics Advisory Committee, Chair of the Prenatal Screening Ontario Education Working Group and Co-Chair of the Ontario Primary Care Genetics Reference Table. When not working on GECKO activities I enjoy walking, kayaking, swimming, reading, watching a good movie or playing with my grandchildren.
Sakina Walji, MD CCFP MPH
I am a family physician at the Ray D. Wolfe Department of Family Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Sinai Health, in Toronto and an assistant lecturer at the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. I am a member of the Primary Care Genetics Reference Table (GRT), Provincial Genetics Program at Ontario Health, the Genetics working group for Prenatal Screening Ontario and the Genetics committee for the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SOGG). When I am not working on my academic endeavours, I enjoy spending time with my young girls and picking up a good novel.
Shawna Morrison, MS CGC
I am a board-certified genetic counsellor at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa. I received my MS in genetic counselling at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in 2010. My clinical role at CHEO evolves depending on clinic needs and currently involves seeing patients for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome indications. I am an active member of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors. I am also a member of the Prenatal Screening Ontario Education Working Group as well as a member of the Inter-Society Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics (ISCC). When not working on GECKO activities I enjoy feeding my appetite for podcasts, swimming, walks in the sunshine.
Caitlin Aldridge, MS CGC
Content specialist and newest addition
I am a board-certified genetic counsellor who completed my Master of Science in Genetic Counselling at the University of British Columbia in 2020. I work as a clinical genetic counsellor in the Regional Genetics Program at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa. In this role, I see children and adults who have or are at risk for inherited cardiovascular conditions and hereditary cancer susceptibility conditions. I provide clinical supervision to students in the McGill MSc in Genetic Counselling Program. When not talking about genes I enjoy swimming, attending theatre productions, traveling, and searching Ottawa for the best ice cream.