Reflections on my first few weeks in CAGPM and more about me

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
By Brittany Vekstein


I started as the new Communications Specialist for The Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine on Monday, September 27, 2021, and boy, have I alreadydog learned a lot! Starting a new job remotely is, well, different. You miss out on the brief conversations around the office, the welcome lunch, and getting to know the people you will be working with right off the bat. However, I’ve already found that the group of people working at CAGPM are personable, welcoming, and passionate about the work being done to accelerate translation of discoveries in the genome and data sciences to improve patient care and individual health. So, despite the distance, joining this team remotely has been a smooth and enjoyable transition. One thing that has remained the same, my loyal golden retriever, Otis, remains at my feet while I work each day.

This thriving center is chock full of stories, news, achievements, and more. In my first few weeks, one of our faculty members, Dr. Lori Orlando, received her first R01 from the NIH for a project on “Deploying a genomic-medicine risk assessment model for diverse primary care populations and settings.” I am also working with the amazing MEDx team to prepare for the upcoming Distinguished Lecture with Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna, PhD. If you’re reading this and haven’t registered to join this awesome talk on Oct. 26, do so now. Also, one of our MEDx, principal investigators, Dr. Jessilyn Dunn, was published in JAMA Network Open, along with co-authors in CAGPM, for her paper on the importance and power of wearables to detect viral illness.

Those are just a few of the many highlights of my first few weeks. The staff and faculty are so welcoming, and I am truly looking forward to amplifying all the amazing work they are doing in the world of applied genomics and precision medicine.

Now, a little about me…Cleveland Browns

I am originally from Ohio and moved to North Carolina in January 2019 where I joined Duke and started in the Duke Department of Medicine! I moved to join my (now) husband, who is a resident at Duke in cardiothoracic surgery. We both grew up in Cleveland and love it. I started my first job there out of college with the Cleveland Browns. Go Browns! I worked for the Browns for 9 seasons as the manager of Community Relations before making the move to Durham. North Carolina is amazing…and yes, the weather is MUCH better (I definitely don’t miss the snow.) Our favorite part about living in North Carolina is the accessibility to both the beach and the mountains! Our favorite activities always involve being outdoors – hiking in Asheville, kayaking in Falls Lake, visiting the beach, and basically bringing our dog, Otis, anywhere we go.

I’ve loved working at Duke-- it is a fantastic place to be with incredibly intelligent people. I am looking forward to all the exciting things to happen at The Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine!