Jewish Genetics 102
Jewish genetic disease screening at Penn:
|GOT A COMMENT?|
|(Click here to send us your thoughts on this article.)|
Students from the University of Pennsylvania and other area colleges and universities participated in record numbers last month when Albert Einstein Medical Center organized its fifth on-campus Jewish genetic disease screening at Penn Hillelís Steinhardt Hall. 179 undergraduate and graduate students received free carrier screening for eight recessive genetic diseases that occur at a higher frequency in the Ashkenazi Jewish Community. Students receive free screening for these diseases thanks to the generosity of the Victor and Kaiserman families, who sponsor Einsteinís Jewish genetic disease screening program.
The screening took place on Wednesday, November 10, between 1:00 and 7:30 p.m. in Steinhardt Hallís first floor lobby. The location and the timing both added to the screeningís success, as students eating lunch and dinner in the cafeteria stopped to be screened as they passed through the lobby.
The impressive attendance can also be attributed to the participation of many University of Pennsylvania student groups in the publicity of the event. Announcements were sent out over several email listserves, with some students receiving the message as many as five or six times. In addition, students helped get the word out by hanging posters, handing out flyers on Locust Walk, and encouraging friends to attend the event.
The week before the screening, Einstein physician Daniel Eisenberg, MD, led a discussion about Jewish textual sources and genetic disease carrier screening. The event was well attended, thanks to co-sponsorship by Tradition Confronts Innovation, a campus group whose focus is the relationship between science and Judaism. Dr. Eisenberg began by reviewing basic inheritance patterns of the diseases being discussed, and continued with an examination of several Jewish textual sources and writings by rabbinic experts. Dr. Eisenberg has written extensively on this topic and others relating to Jewish medical ethics. The event was also supported by Penn Hillel and Lubavitch House at Penn.
The 179 students who received screening for Jewish genetic diseases at Penn last month exceeds the combined total of the numbers screened at all four of the programís previous on-campus screenings at Penn (21 students in October 2000; 17 students in March 2002; 56 in October 2003; and 82 in April 2004, for a total of 176 students).
Einsteinís Jewish genetic disease screening program hopes to continue organizing screenings on Pennís campus each semester, and to expand the on-campus program to include Drexel University, Temple University, Bryn Mawr College, and Haverford College. Funding permitting, this expansion will occur in Winter/Spring 2005.
For information on bringing Jewish genetic disease screening and outreach/educational programs to your campus, contact the Victor Center for Jewish Genetic Diseases.
Johannah Lebow, Outreach Coordinator
Albert Einstein Medical Center
5501 Old York Road, Levy 2-West
Philadelphia, PA 19141