Walk of Life – Importance of Genetic Testing

Walk of Life, in essence, is an event, first of its kind that brings doctors and scientists to interact with the public for them to understand the utility of science in their lives. Connect-In, our event organiser envisions to provide a platform to bring the stakeholders of the society together by organising events such as these. On the second Sunday of every month, SciRio collaborates with the Institute for Applied Research and Innovation (InARI) as the official media partner to cover this event series where the participants gather to take a walk with us while they can interact with guest doctors and scientists for the day.

July was about understanding the need for Genetic Testing. So, we had Dr Shilpa, a gynaecologist from Procare Diagnostics, Dr Jayabharathi, a general physician and ENT specialist from GBY ENT clinic and Dr Rajani Kanth Vangala and Dr Jiny Nair, two scientists specialised in Genetics. The event was sponsored by industry experts such as Strand Life Sciences, Prema’s Life Sciences, Ameliorate and Seragen to talk to people about why they are doing their bit in promoting and conducting genetic tests.

The participants for this month’s edition were very diverse. We had kids from school, college students, and parents from the locality of Ramanjaneya Nagar and ISRO Layout who were all novices to genetic testing. It was indeed pleasant to see the local corporator and Ramanjaneya Nagar’s association members enthusiastically joining us for the walk.

The event kick-started with an introductory note from Dr Rajani Kanth Vangala, the Director of InARI addressing the group followed by a cheerful mandatory group photograph.

We began the walk on a pre-set route that covered the area of Ramanjaneya Nagar. Participants and volunteers hoarded handmade posters with the theme of genetic testing while we walked the lanes of Ramanjaneya Nagar.

We stopped by at two parks of the locality, East End Park and West End Park to enlighten the early birds at the park who were curious about what a group of oddly diverse people were up to on a Sunday morning. I must say, it was very effective! More people from the parks joined our walk.

We headed to the institute to have brief informal discussions with the doctors and scientists. Dr Rajani Kanth Vangala introduced the public to what genetic tests are, while Dr Shilpashree who followed him, elaborately described the different kinds of tests that are available to us here in India. She also stressed the importance of genetic counselling coupled with testing for better healthcare in India.

The audience were indeed enthused to know more and kept at it by interacting with every speaker.  Further to Dr Shilpa, Dr Jayabharathi spoke about genetic testing and counselling as an aid and guide to people who might have a family history of a particular disease or disorder.

After the doctors gave their piece of knowledge, Dr Jiny Nair, a PhD in Genetics spoke to the audience about her perspective of why her work is relevant to the day’s discussion.

I must say, doctors’ and scientists’ approaches are like the two sides of the same coin. Doctors always see a problem in the perspective of their patients about how they can be treated while scientists look at it to understand how it occurs and ultimately resolve it for the patient. This message was loud and clear during these discussions. The audience was equally engaged in the discussions and it was obvious to see that the event was a success.

Not to forget, Mrs Shobha Gowda, the local corporator who was equally engaging in the discussions. Mr Shastri, one of the members of the Ramanjaneya Nagar Association was very impressed by the kind of platform we had presented to the residents there.

Towards the end, we had one of our sponsors, Ameliorate with us who also addressed the gathering by throwing light on how their genetic testing services complement the doctors’ initiatives of recommending testing and counselling to their patients.

As the event came to an end, of course, the volunteers had to be rewarded for their creative and coordinative efforts of making the event a grand success which was in the form of certificates presented by Dr Rajani.

Towards the end, when the participants enquired about the next event in series, we opened registrations for the next edition of Walk of Life that will happen on the second Sunday of August, the 11th at 8 am which will leave the floor open for discussion about Heart Diseases, Diabetes and Hypertension.

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