The Program for Jewish Genetic Health, a joint initiative of Yeshiva University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, recently launched a new online educational resource called the GeneSights Jewish Genetics Online Educational Series, to educate people about the various genetic health conditions that affect the Jewish community. The website, www.genesights.com, is free to registered members, who will receive email updates when new lessons or additional content is added.
“Advances in scientific research have identified many genetic diseases and conditions that are commonly found among Jews,” said Dr. Nicole Schreiber-Agus, scientific and programming director for the Program for Jewish Genetic Health. “In addition, advances in technology, and genetic testing in general, continue to impact routine health care. GeneSights is designed to provide the Jewish community with easy access to user-friendly information and a better grasp of the field of genetics and its associated opportunities and limitations.”
GeneSights consists of individual lessons with topics including diseases, medical conditions, genetic technologies and bioethical issues. The site already includes lessons on:
Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, more specifically, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations in these genes are responsible for the vast majority of hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer and are found in approximately 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish men and women
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), which is significantly more prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews than amongst the general population.
Pre-conception screening for Tay-Sachs disease and other Jewish genetic diseases that can affect offspring
Most lessons include a short public service announcement video, which gives a snapshot of the condition in question, from a patient’s perspective. Once registered, viewers can access a full-length webinar presented by an expert in the field, supplemental written materials to serve as practical next steps, and links to other resources and organizations dedicated to the specific subject. New lessons will appear on GeneSights approximately every two months. Future topics will include Parkinson’s disease, Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), blood disorders and bone marrow transplants.
GeneSights also features a two-part “Genetics 101” webinar that provides a genetics overview to viewers who want a baseline lesson. On the technology front, GeneSights will explore PGD, a reproductive option for couples identified to be at increased risk for passing a genetic condition on to their offspring.
Seed funding for the GeneSights series was provided in part by UJA-Federation of New York and by a generous grant in honor of Beatrice Milberg. For more information, visit www.genesights.com.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.