Medical Genetics Lab

Your Medical Genetics Lab

The team at the Sanford Medical Genetics Lab uses your DNA to unlock answers about your health. Our laboratory geneticists and genetic counselors provide risk assessment and education to patients at risk for or diagnosed with a genetic condition.

We work to provide comprehensive laboratory services, support services, clinical expertise and medical consultations. Our lab puts state-of-the-art technology in the hands of experienced professionals to provide services you can trust.

Visit us at Sanford Imagenetics in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Our Genetic Testing Services

We offer a wide variety of genetic testing and interpretation services such as:

  • Arrays and microarrays
  • Copy number variant analysis
  • DNA sequencing (Sanger)
  • Fragile X testing
  • Pharmacogenomics assay (such as UGT1a1 or VKORC1 testing)

The Sanford Medical Genetics Lab is accredited by the College of American Pathologists and certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA). We are licensed in California, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Our Laboratory Team

In the lab, our team includes:

  • Clinical staff scientists
  • Genetic lab specialists
  • Genetic lab technicians
  • Lab directors
  • Lab quality specialists
  • Lab supervisors

We also work with certified genetic counselors to provide support and education to providers and patients.

Meet the Team

Michele Erickson-Johnson

Michele Erickson-Johnson, PhD

Sr. Director, Laboratory Operations, Sanford Medical Genetics Lab and Enterprise Laboratory Quality

Dr. Michele Erickson-Johnson serves as the senior director for laboratory operations, Sanford Medical Genetics Lab and enterprise laboratory quality. She has produced over 70 abstracts and publications. Previously, Dr. Erickson-Johnson served as the clinical laboratory general lab manager, technical supervisor and chief safety officer at Kailos Genetics and held an academic appointment as an associate professor in laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

She received a Bachelor of Science in agriculture and a Master of Science in microbiology from North Dakota State University and her Doctor of Philosophy in health science (concentration in molecular pathology) from Trident University. Dr. Erickson-Johnson is board certified as a high-complexity clinical laboratory director (HCLD) in molecular diagnostics (via the American Board of Bioanalysis) and molecular pathology (via the American Society for Clinical Pathology).

Dr. Erickson-Johnson currently has an academic appointment as an assistant professor through the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and is a member of the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA), Compass Group – Laboratory Leaders, Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG).

Blake Atwood

Blake Atwood, PhD

Laboratory Director

Dr. Blake Atwood serves as one of the laboratory directors for the Sanford Medical Genetics Laboratory at the Imagenetics building in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He completed his education at Brigham Young University–Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in biology followed by a doctoral degree in biochemistry and molecular genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His research has included an internship at the Boise VA Medical Center studying the effects of doxorubicin on calcium channels of rabbit heart tissue, graduate work studying the transcriptional regulation of the human ribosomal RNA genes during development and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Huntsman Cancer Institute developing clinical diagnostic tests to monitor breast cancer recurrence utilizing cell free DNA. He went on to complete a two-year fellowship in laboratory genetics and genomics at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Atwood is board certified in laboratory genetics and genomics through the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics, where he is also a fellow. He has an academic appointment as an assistant professor at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

Debbie Figueroa

Debbie Figueroa, PhD

Laboratory Director

Dr. Debbie Figueroa serves as one of the laboratory directors for the Sanford Medical Genetics Laboratory at the Imagenetics building. She completed two postdoctoral fellowships. Most recently, her research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute focused on characterizing the role and mechanism by which apolipoproteins modulate fibrogenesis in the context of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. During her postdoctorate in the biological science department at Florida State University, Dr. Figueroa identified epigenetic changes in the X-linked macrosatellite repeat DXZ4 that were coincident with human embryonic stem cell differentiation. Dr. Figueroa completed her fellowship in laboratory genetics and genomics at the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health and received a doctoral degree and a Bachelor of Science in biology at Florida State University. Dr. Figueroa is a member of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics.

Ender Karaca

Ender Karaca, MD

Laboratory Director

Dr. Ender Karaca serves as one of the laboratory directors for the Sanford Medical Genetics Laboratory at the Imagenetics building. He received his medical degree from the Ankara University School of Medicine and completed his residency in medical genetics at Istanbul University, Cerrahpasa School of Medicine. After residency, he did postdoctoral research in Jim Lupski’s lab at Baylor College of Medicine, where he studied a variety of Mendelian traits lacking a known genetic etiology using exome sequencing and microarray technologies. He completed his three- year laboratory genetics and genomics fellowship at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Karaca is well-published and his studies have contributed to the identification of several novel human disease genes and genetic syndromes.

He is a member of the American College of Medical Genetics, American Society of Human Genetics, Turkish Medical Association, Turkish Association of Medical Genetics, and the ACMG Lab Quality Assurance Cytogenetics Subcommittee.

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Available Genetic Tests

Our team provides comprehensive testing for a variety of genetic disorders.

For personalized medicine based on your genetics, learn more about the Sanford Chip DNA test.

We also offer these tests:

  • ACADM (MCAD) full gene sequencing
  • ACADVL (VLCAD) full gene sequencing
  • Basic PharmGx panel
  • BTD full gene sequencing
  • CLN6 full gene sequencing
  • CLN6 known familial mutation
  • CYP2C cluster genotyping
  • CYP2C19 genotyping
  • CYP2C9 genotyping
  • CYP2D6 genotyping
  • CYP3A5 genotyping
  • CYP4F2 genotyping
  • DPYD genotyping
  • EMG1 full gene sequencing
  • Fragile X CGG repeat expansion analysis
  • HADHA (LCHAD) full gene sequencing
  • IFNL3 genotyping
  • OTC full gene sequencing
  • PAH full gene sequencing
  • SLCO1B1 genotyping
  • TPMT genotyping
  • VKORC1 genotyping

View Full Sanford Lab Test Catalog

Our Partnerships

PHASER

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and a generous donation from Denny Sanford, we offer free PGx testing to VA patients.

Learn More About the Partnership

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

Nicklaus Children’s Biobank collects biological specimens from volunteers to contribute to scientific knowledge.

Learn More