The Penn FTD Center welcomes new genetic counselor Kaylee Naczi, MS to the team! Kaylee received her Master’s degree from Arcadia University and completed training at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked in the Neurology Department at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics before returning to the Philadelphia area this past spring.

At the Penn FTD Center, Kaylee works with individuals at risk for inherited neurodegenerative conditions to provide education about the underlying genetics, explain inheritance patterns, and assess the risk to other members of the family. A major component of Kaylee’s work is helping individuals determine if genetic testing is right for them since this can be a complex and personal decision. Kaylee works with family members throughout the process by discussing possible outcomes and considerations prior to testing. She then interprets genetic testing results and outlines what it could mean for other members of the family. Kaylee explains, “Genetic conditions can have a ripple effect on the whole family and individuals can take on many different roles: patient, caregiver, gene positive, gene negative. It’s important to be there to help families understand their own risks. If a genetic cause is found through testing, relatives who do not currently show symptoms may want to know if they also carry the gene and could develop symptoms in the future”.

One of Kaylee’s favorite parts about her job is working with families. She has been motivated to work with individuals with neurologic conditions for over ten years. “While I can’t explain it, some people have just always known what they wanted to do. For me, that’s how I’ve always felt about working with patients that have neurodegenerative conditions. Reading about FTD, ALS, AD and other neurologic conditions strengthened that voice inside of me that said ‘Yes, this is what I was meant to do.’”

Kaylee is also fascinated by the complexity of genetics. “Genetics can be complicated and I like being the interpreter between patients and their own genes. I believe that the future of medicine lies in evaluating genetics to look for clues as to what medication will work better for a patient and the reason some individuals develop a neurodegenerative disease while others don’t. It’s truly an exciting time and I feel gene therapy holds a lot of promise for the future.”