The Anniversary Spotlight highlights an employee celebrating a significant work anniversary at UPMC every month.
Ed Smith is a genetic counselor by trade. In fact, that was his very first role when he began his career at UPMC 30 years ago. The field of genetic counseling, which has become more and more pertinent over the years, represents a fascinating middle ground between the physician, lab researchers, and the patient.
“Genetic counselors are individuals who have a knowledge of human genetics and the proper testing methods, and then be able to cobble all that complex information together and present it to a patient so that they understand why genetics was thought to be a contributor to whatever issue was bringing them to medical attention,” Ed said.
Ed already had extensive background knowledge of human genetics after receiving his degree on the subject, so he was set up for success in the field. Eventually, he began splitting his time between genetic counseling and the Department of Business Planning at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital because of his interest in the business side of things. This interest eventually inspired him to receive his MBA – all the while continuing his genetic counseling career.
In early 2022, Ed was still working with the Magee-Womens laboratory but was constantly dreaming of ways in which all of the UPMC genome testing labs could streamline their processes and work together towards a common goal. That’s when he was introduced to Jeanne Cunicelli, President of UPMC Enterprises. The UPMC Genome Center falls under UPMC Enterprises, and at the time, they were looking for a new model to become more clinically oriented.
“They were looking for me and I was looking for them, but we didn’t know we were looking for each other,” Ed said. “I still remember the comment Jeanne said to me: ‘I didn’t even know you were in our backyard.’”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect, and Ed was brought onto the team to help merge the clinical genomic laboratories with the UPMC Genome Center to promote growth and capabilities.
Today, Ed works at UPMC Enterprises as the Senior Director of Clinical Genomic Services. While he has only been at Enterprises since March 2022, he has already had the chance to combine his passions for business and health care in a whole new way.
“UPMC Enterprises is a different mindset,” he said. “Moving over to Enterprises allowed me to truly think outside the box. We’re actually encouraged and acknowledged for doing that.”
Throughout his career at UPMC, Ed has remained curious and open-minded about all of the different aspects of health care – especially within his niche of genetic counseling. For those who might just be starting out in their careers, Ed suggests being as well-rounded as possible.
“The health care piece of it is incredibly important,” he said. “But to also have the knowledge about the business side of things – to understand the economics, for example, of health care and why it’s sometimes important to consider, will make you an even more valuable asset.”