Get to Know Clinical Geneticist, Dr. Ingrid Cristian
Clinical genetics is an area of medicine you may not be very familiar with, but it’s a rapidly evolving discipline that offers us much-needed clues about the how and why of disease.
When we talk about genetics, we’re talking about the study of hereditary material that’s passed down within families; it’s what makes you, you. And if there are changes in that hereditary material, or DNA, it can cause a host of physical changes. Identifying the changes in DNA that can result in birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities or diseases is the job of a geneticist. Once a syndrome or disease is identified, doctors are better able to find a treatment.
Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of genetics is this: it offers us answers. Understanding the story that is told by our hereditary material can give us answers about why we’re sick and how to treat it that we may not otherwise know.
Join me as we get to know a caregiver who has dedicated her life to this pursuit, Dr. Ingrid Cristian.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up between New York and Colombia. I lived the first 14 years of my life in Queens, New York and then my family relocated to Colombia. Later on, when I finished middle school, high school and medical school, I moved back to New York.
My husband and I have a young son who I try to dedicate as much time to as my work life permits. We also have a chocolate lab, that fortunately has less energy now that our son is in our lives.
How did you end up in Orlando?
After I met my husband we looked for job opportunities for both of us and found them here in Orlando.
When did you first decide that you wanted to become a doctor?
Don’t remember exactly, but it was before 8th grade since I wrote it as my future aspiration.
How did you become interested in your area of practice?
During medical school, we rotated through clinical genetics, and my professor was great. She was hard working and a great clinician. She worked with little resources and depended on her clinical skills to get a diagnosis; she changed many lives answering questions- many they did not know the answers to. I knew then that was the path I would want to pursue. I went on to do my pediatric residency and continue to clinical genetics. During my residency, I realized how interesting the biochemical pathways were and decided to go on to sit for the medical biochemical boards and diagnose/manage/treat patients with inborn errors of metabolism.
What is the best part of your job?
Our team is great, and I love the opportunity that some families provide me to be part of their lives.
Do you have any hobbies or favorite things to do when not working?
I love to learn about different cultures and new languages. I used to travel to be able to be in contact with different cultures. As I have matured and my responsibilities have increased and my family has expanded, it has been a greater challenge but still possible, and I take the opportunity to do this while staying local.
Tell us a little about what you do.
We serve a large variety of patients. I see patients referred to clinical genetics and to metabolics. I try to gather all the clinical information possible to come up with a unifying diagnosis to subsequently be able to formulate a plan of management, coordinate appropriate medical care and follow-up and discuss prognosis and recurrence risks.
In what ways is your practice unique or well-suited to serve patients’ needs?
We have a well-rounded team with multiple different health care providers, and are still expanding, to be able to serve and help in many domains the families we serve. We communicate very well between each other to help obtain a diagnosis, especially if rare, and have the ability to contact world leading specialists if needed in certain cases.
What do you hope for your practice or specialty in the future?To continue to expand and offer more services in our department and be able to collaborate and educate primary community providers with regards to genetic diagnosis.