Dr. Mariam Fida is a medical geneticist specializing in preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). She is currently working at a fertility center in Bahrain, counseling patients about their genetic conditions and risks of inheritance and also helping them have healthy children.
Why did you want to take HMX Pro Genetics courses?
Because of the small society in Bahrain and the high rate of consanguineous marriages, we have a lot of genetic diseases, especially sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia. We also see many BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations which increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
So why was I interested in taking the courses? As a faculty member – and since I also post sessions on the basics of genetics on my Instagram account – I was interested in Genetics – Essentials to see how Harvard teaches the genetics curriculum and if it was any different than the way we conduct it.
My PhD was on breast cancer genetics, so when I saw there was a cancer genomics course offered, I was very interested. I thought I could benefit from it in better understanding my cancer patients’ mutations and what targeted therapy could be used.
Given your background, what was the challenge level like for you?
I had to concentrate a bit more in the cancer genomics course [than in Genetics – Essentials]. There were some details that I didn’t know before. I personally learned a lot from it.
During Genetics – Essentials, it was amazing the way all the animations were conducted, and how they show concepts in a very basic, nice way; starting with the genes and then building on that and explaining the modes of inheritance. This is the way we also teach in medical school here, but then as you progress in the course, there were more details that aren’t taught here.
Were there other aspects of the courses that you appreciated?
I liked the quizzes; they were written in such a way that would let you think. It wasn’t like 1+1 = 2, you have to think about it and consider what did we learn in previous sessions to understand the question and answer it correctly. So I thought that was a good thing.
Would you recommend the courses to others?
If you are a student and interested in genetics, I would definitely recommend Genetics – Essentials. It starts with the basics and gradually builds on it.
If you are an established geneticist and interested in the field of oncology and precision medicine, then Cancer Genomics and Precision Oncology is for you. For the students who did not [previously] take a genetics course or don’t have a background in the basics, they should probably take Genetics – Essentials first.