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Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis More Common Among Ashkenazi Jews

Individuals seeking to learn about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD) can self-educate at GeneSights, the free online education resource presented by the Program for Jewish Genetic Health of Yeshiva University/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. IBD affects more than 1.4 million Americans and its prevalence is significantly higher in individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent as compared to the general population.

GeneSights consists of individual “lessons” with topics selected based on their current relevance to the Jewish community, including specific diseases and medical conditions, genetic technologies and bioethical issues. The GeneSights IBD lesson, co-sponsored by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America- Greater New York Chapter, features expert lecturer Dr. Judy Cho, professor at Yale University and the director of the Yale Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program.

The new IBD lesson is accompanied by a 2-minute public service announcement video that features a real patient story.

Visitors viewing the full lesson on IBD will:

  • Learn about the symptoms of, and differences between, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Gain an understanding of the Jewish genetic aspect of IBD
  • Discover how family history can help one assess his or her risk for IBD
  • Explore the different management strategies, treatments, research studies and support groups that are available for those with IBD

“People are largely unaware that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect Jews disproportionately,” said Nicole Schreiber-Agus, PhD, program director for the Program for Jewish Genetic Health and a member of the GeneSights production team. “Similar to our inaugural lesson on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, GeneSights provides a centralized location to help the Jewish community understand their genetic risk for Crohn’s and colitis, as well as identify the symptoms, treatment options and other available resources for managing their illnesses.”

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.