Denver, CO — JScreen, the non-profit community-based public health initiative dedicated to education and carrier screening for Jewish and other genetic diseases, was at the Hillel International Global Assembly, engaging with Hillel professionals in order to bring JScreen to their campuses for education and screening events. JScreen’s expanded screening panels now enable for testing of more than 200 diseases, a significant development from a generation ago.
“Our national partnership with Hillel has been strong since the inception of JScreen,” says Hillary Kener, Director of National Outreach and Communication for Emory University’s JScreen program. “This relationship helps us reach thousands of students from campuses across the country by providing them will affordable and convenient Jewish genetic testing. Being in Denver at the Hillel Global Assembly and speaking with the 1,100 Hillel professionals from campuses all over the country, both large and small, has been a great opportunity to educate the staff on the importance of genetic testing. They can then share information with their students and bring JScreen’s mission back home with them in order to make an even greater impact.”
While at the Global Assembly, JScreen also registered people for screening. And during the holiday season JScreen offers a JGift, making it easy for people to send family and friends the screening kit as a present, which collects saliva at home and is then sent to a lab.
Currently, 80 percent of babies with genetic diseases are born to parents with no known family history of that disease.
“The JGift certainly is a unique gift, but it can be critical to ensuring a future healthy child and family,” Kener adds.
JScreen notes that it detects nearly two times as many carriers of genetic diseases in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent compared with the general population. One in three Jews is a carrier for one of the Jewish genetic diseases. If tests come back with positive results, and a person or couple’s risk is elevated, JScreen provides results via phone or secure video-conference by certified genetic counselors. These experts privately address the results, resources, and options moving forward.
There are many ways for at-risk couples to still have healthy children through a variety of options such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal diagnosis, sperm or egg donation from a non-carrier, and adoption.
Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Human Genetics, the JScreen initiative provides everyday people with a ready access point to cutting-edge genetic testing technology, patient education and genetic counseling services. JScreen believes the combination of education, access to premier gene screening technologies and personalized, confidential support are the keys to helping couples plan ahead for the health of their future families.