Genetic test analysis led to artistic expression of thanks

Guild presents quilt to Genetic Medicine Clinic in appreciation of member learning her genetic variants


Quilt donation Members of the Seattle Modern Quilting Guild present their one-of-a-kind, hand-stitched quilt to UW Medicine representatives.

How does one thank an organization that provides personalized knowledge and insights into genetic variants linked to disease?

UW Medicine clinical molecular pathologist Dr. Brian Shirts and his colleagues recently helped Lynne Shandley understand her potential hereditary connections. Shirts, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine and pathology, specializes in genetic testing.

Shirts also heads up the non-profit ConnectMyVariant, which emerged from a 2019 grant from the Brotman Baty Institute to bring together individuals and families to learn the significance of their genetic findings.

Shandley wanted to show her appreciation to Shirts and others at UW Medicine involved in medical genomics. She loves quilting and expresses that love with friends in the Seattle Modern Quilting Guild.

Shandley queued up her quilting colleagues and together they designed and stitched a handmade wall quilt measuring 7 feet by more than 5 feet, in bright Husky purple and gold colors. The quilt beautifully conveys the theme of a lab test separating DNA into fragments.

“Our organization contributes quilts to groups serving communities in need, and genetic testing is a vital need to so many,” said Marion Lisko, a representative of the guild. “It’s our hope this quilt will prompt questions to which understanding one’s genetic history is the answer.”

Raising genetic questions and obtaining answers are daily occurrences at the UW Medicine Genetic Medicine Clinic located inside the UW Institute for Human Development and Disability on the South Campus of the University of Washington.

The quilt was officially donated to the clinic May 16. Attending the presentation (and shown in photograph, above) were: Sunny Juul, director of the UW Institute for Human Development and Disability; Marion Lisko, Quilters Guild representative; David Owen Hastings, Quilters Guild representative; Mark Harniss, director of the UW Center for Technology and Disability Studies; Brian Shirts, UW Medicine pathologist and leader of ConnectMyVariant; and Ann Marchand, Quilters Guild representative.