The history of Jewish genetic testing at Einstein is a rich and longstanding one, starting with Operation GeneScreen (Tay-Sachs disease screening) in the 1970’s. With the discovery of more genetic links to diseases common in the Ashkenazi Jewish population, genetic carrier screening has expanded well beyond Tay-Sachs disease. Our Program grew out of a pilot effort, which began in the spring of 2006, aimed towards providing the Jewish community with accessible and affordable carrier testing for Jewish genetic diseases that could affect offspring. More than 4,000 individuals were tested by us during the pilot phase, many of whom came from subsidized screening programs throughout the nation.
Building upon the success of the pilot phase, it was time to expand in related directions. In the spring of 2010, a relationship with Yeshiva University and Einstein was formalized, and the Program for Jewish Genetic Health was "born." The powerful reputation and resources of these institutions in the areas of outreach, medicine, and ethics were clearly needed to drive this project to the next level.
Where We Are Today
With the recent explosion of genetic knowledge and technology, there are many Jewish genetic health issues that require the same focus and attention as Tay-Sachs disease and other conditions which can affect offspring. We are anticipating what will emerge in the Jewish genetic realm in the years to come…from familial cancers to adult onset brain disorders, from bone marrow transplantations to novel gene therapies. Advances in medicine have allowed for significant progress in the realms of diagnosis, prevention, and management of these diseases, and ultimately will impact treatment and cures. The Program for Jewish Genetic Health represents an attempt to develop a centralized resource for the Jewish community, to address Jewish genetic health concerns and offer support and solutions.
How We Are Contributing to the Health of the Jewish Community