Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH, in August 2020 joined Mount Sinai as System Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, and Director of the Department’s new Division of Genetics and Genomics. In this work, she will be advancing an important goal of the Mount Sinai Health System—to make genetics and genomic tools more easily available to more patients.
Dr. Dolan is responsible for leading strategic patient care and research initiatives and fostering a collaborative relationship with Mount Sinai’s Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and the Institute for Genomic Health, which aims to accelerate the integration of genomics into clinical care. “Historically, genetics and genomic care has been delivered in a rare-disease model. If a patient has a genetic condition, or is at risk, they see a specialist,” Dr. Dolan said. “But now Mount Sinai is leading the field by saying, ‘genetics is not just about rare diseases, genetics is for everybody,’ and we are making this kind of care delivery more accessible.”
Prenatal patients at Mount Sinai are offered cell-free DNA screening for aneuploidy, with the option to have expanded carrier screening, the most extensive panels available. General gynecologic patients can also be screened for familial risk such as hereditary breast and ovarian cancers or Lynch syndrome, which encompasses colon cancer and uterine cancer. Physicians and genetic counselors are being supported in offering these services, especially through telemedicine, which Dr. Dolan points out has become an increasingly important tool during the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is an effort to move forward and use the power of genetics and genomic tools to benefit all populations.”
Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH
Mount Sinai is also an important referral site for genetics and genomics, providing early diagnostic testing with chorionic villus sampling. The Maternal Fetal Medicine team, led by Joanne Stone, MD, MS, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, provides guidance in complex cases, such as genetic discordance in twins.
Dr. Dolan, the author of the March of Dimes guidebook Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, joined Mount Sinai from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. “My research interests focus on how to translate genetic information into clinical care,” Dr. Dolan said. "I've also done research in preterm birth and newborn screening; the impact of infectious diseases on pregnancy; and the benefits of delivering prenatal care in a group setting.”
As Vice Chair for Research, Dr. Dolan will lead obstetrics and gynecology research, overseeing the strategic development and administration of the department’s basic, clinical, and translational research programs. The intersection of women’s health, genetics, and public health allows Dr. Dolan to continue her extensive clinical work and research. She was senior author of a study published in August 2020 in Obstetrics & Gynecology that found most women with confirmed COVID-19 infection admitted for delivery were asymptomatic. The study of 241 women at five New York City hospitals found that disease severity was associated with higher rates of cesarean and preterm birth, and suggested that social determinants of health should be considered in assessing the risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy.
Continuing this work, Dr. Dolan is among the leaders of Generation C, a Mount Sinai study of the effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy that is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is now enrolling 4,000 pregnant patients.
Another crucial research effort is New York City Kid Seq, a study that is enrolling a highly diverse cohort of patients who are up to 21 years old and have epilepsy, developmental delays, heart disease, or difficulty in fighting infections due to low immune system. Principal investigators are Mount Sinai’s Eimear Kenny, PhD, Director of the Institute for Genomic Health; Bruce Gelb, MD, the Gogel Family Chair and Director of The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute; Carol Horowitz, MD, MPH, Dean for Gender Equity in Science and Medicine, and Director of the Institute for Health Equity Research; in addition to Melissa Wasserstein, MD, Chief of Pediatric Genetic Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The research team will conduct two types of genomic testing on the subjects’ blood samples: targeted gene panels and genome sequencing.
“We are looking at the utility of clinical genomic sequencing, and how it can contribute to improved health for children in diverse communities,” Dr. Dolan said.
These initiatives and research efforts reflect Mount Sinai’s strong commitment to advancing both health equity and the understanding of genetics and genomics. “We want to be using state-of-the-art technology, and all of the advantages of genetics, to improve women's health and children's health,” Dr. Dolan said. “This is an effort to move forward and use the power of genetics and genomic tools to benefit all populations.”
Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH
Vice Chair for Research, and Director of Genetics and Genomics, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science