Carrie Lahner

Mayo Clinic Labs @Work

Carrie began her career at Mayo Clinic in 2006 as the associate director of the Eisenberg Genomics Education Program. In her current role as a genetic counselor, she employs her skills to educate on genetic test offerings and support MCL’s product management team. Motivated by her family’s experience with a genetic condition, Carrie finds purpose and passion in sparking conversations and fostering understanding about the benefits of genetic testing, striving to make genomics accessible to diverse audiences.


What brought you to Mayo Clinic, and how long have you worked here?

Carrie Lahner, MS, CGC.

My career at Mayo Clinic started in 2006 when I worked as the associate director of the Eisenberg Genomics Education Program. This grant-funded program bridged the gap between genetic medicine and our Mayo Clinic providers across various specialties, benefiting patient care at the bedside. In 2011, I took a brief hiatus from Mayo Clinic to gain outside industry experience at a commercial genetics laboratory. When I returned to Mayo in 2015, I worked in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology’s (DLMP) Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics in whole exome sequencing. However, my supervisor and I both recognized my continued passion for genomics education and an institutional need to educate on our genetic test offerings. In 2021, I was supported to develop a new role for a genetic counselor as part of the product management team in Mayo Clinic Laboratories (MCL).  


What’s your current role and what does a typical workday look like for you?

Carrie and a team of genetic counselors attend the 2023 National Society of Genetic Counselors annual meeting in Chicago to represent MCL’s comprehensive genomic test offerings.

When I’m working with my product management colleagues, I leverage my skills as a genetic counselor to set expectations, craft agendas for discussion, research and gather information, communicate complex concepts about genomics technology, educate on various genetic test offerings, and provide ongoing support and resources. The audience is no longer a typical genetic counseling patient visit, but rather members of our staff and our clients.

In addition, my understanding of genomics supports MCL’s business operations. I may be asked to provide insight and strategy on the ever-changing genomics market, develop key messages for assays in our genomics portfolio, anticipate client objections, or summarize our competitive differentiators. I assist in providing genomics educational content for various marketing assets, coordinating our MCL presence at genetics-related tradeshows, and bridging connections between colleagues in MCL and DLMP who have similar goals and interests in promoting our genomic assays and services.


How do you think your work benefits providers and patients?

Improved awareness and understanding of our test menu leads to increased utilization of genetic testing. Enhancing accessibility to genetic testing expands the reach of diagnoses to numerous patients globally, potentially unlocking further screening, management, or treatment possibilities for both patients and their family members.


Is there anything about you or your job that others may find surprising? 

I learned about genetic counseling in high school when I watched a laserdisc about the Human Genome Project and the developing field of genetic counseling. I recognized that this career would give me opportunities to work with the science of genetics, educate, make a difference for patients, and be a part of a dynamic and ever-changing environment. My confidence in becoming a genetic counselor grew stronger while in college. At the time, I was asked to share my understanding of genetics after two of my brothers were diagnosed with a genetic eye disease.

Carrie with her three older brothers, whose journey navigating their own family’s genetic condition gave her confidence to pursue a career in genetic counseling.

During every family function, I drew pedigrees and explained inheritance, discovering that I enjoyed breaking down complicated scientific concepts and making genomics comprehensible and accessible to audiences with widely varying backgrounds. My own family’s experience with a genetic condition empowered and inspired me to continue this path.


Which part(s) of your job is the most challenging, and why?  

Navigating conversations around billing and reimbursement for genetic testing, whether within a clinical or laboratory environment, presents challenges due to the aggressive pricing strategies of some commercial genetic test providers. This has resulted in market prices being driven so low that the true cost of genetic testing is often misunderstood.


What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?  

Carrie and her family enjoy a hike to the summit of Diamond Head State Monument in spring 2022 (Left to right: husband Ryan, daughter Lexi, Carrie, and daughter Hannah).

Whether it's influencing a single patient, healthcare provider, or fellow members of our MCL team, I find fulfillment in sparking conversations and fostering understanding about the advantages of genetic testing. I am thankful for the support in this critical educational role so we may continue to expand genomics comprehension, accessibility, and utilization, ultimately enhancing the lives of patients and health outcomes.

Know someone who has a good Mayo Clinic Labs @Work story? Nominate them here.

More from Mayo Clinic Labs @Work

Nicole Holman

Nicole Holman joined Mayo Clinic Laboratories in 2023. She currently serves as communications writer on the marketing team. Nicole enjoys feature writing and storytelling focused on employees, patients, and company culture.