Students Host Innovative Genetic Screening Event

Free Feb. 14 Event Open to the Broader Community

Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) will partner with JScreen, a university-based nonprofit program specializing in carrier screening for genetic diseases common in the Jewish population, to host a free genetic screening event. The event, which will make screening for more than 100 genetic diseases available to undergraduate and graduate students, will take place on YU’s Wilf Campus during YU’s Annual Seforim Sale from 2-6 p.m. Sunday, February 14 in the 12th floor of Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY, 10033.

Thanks to a generous subsidy from JScreen, there are no out-of-pocket costs for anyone who attends the screening, whether or not they are affiliated with YU. Unlike most genetic screenings, the tests will also use saliva, rather than blood, to collect DNA samples, making the testing process faster and less invasive.

In addition to being tested, each participant will have the opportunity to speak with a licensed genetic counselor. With a comprehensive panel that screens for a wide range of potential diseases, Jews of any background—Ashkenazic, Sephardic or Mizrachi—will benefit from the event.

“The Medical Ethics Society has done groundbreaking work by providing genetic screenings in the past, but we want to increase our impact this year by expanding our reach to the greater Jewish community,” said Rebecca Garber, co-president of MES. “Everyone should be tested, and we are fortunate enough to go to a school that satisfies this need for us. However, many of our peers do not have this opportunity readily available to them. We recognize this lack and hope to include as many people as possible.”

“We believe that  all students should undergo genetic testing before marriage, preferably before dating or entering into a serious relationship,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, vice president for university and community life at YU. “Testing gives students the knowledge to make informed decisions which can diminish pain and suffering within our community. YU Roshei Yeshiva encourage students to get tested and to speak to a trained genetic counselor and a knowledgeable halachic authority about any questions they may have.”

“Ultimately, we hope that the convenience and subsidized testing will make genetic screening an accessible reality for hundreds of people, benefiting not only the YU student body but the greater Jewish community,” said Ari Garfinkel, co-president of MES.

To register, visit JScreen.org/college and select “YU/Stern” from the “how did you hear about JScreen” drop-down menu. Enter insurance information on step 2, and use coupon code “YU2016” on step 4. Walk-ins on the day of the event will be welcome, but pre-registration is encouraged.

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