Genetic Screening on Campus
By Deborah Shamilov, Class of 2018
On Monday, October 19 and Friday, November 13, Hillel offered genetic screening to Jewish students on campus. An information seminar was held before the first screening, during which genetic counselors in the Department of Genetics at the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) and Rabbi Shaul Rappeport of the Puah Institute, an organization dedicated to providing support for Jewish couples with fertility and genetic challenges, spoke about the importance of genetic screening in the Jewish community.
This event was extremely eye opening and informative. The educational seminar included information about how genetics work, why screening is important, and what the options are for carrier couples. Although many students are aware of the diseases that Jews are more genetically inclined to be carriers for, this screening was the golden opportunity to actually do something about it. Over 100 genetic disorders were screened for, including the 19 that are known as “Jewish Genetic Diseases”. This allowed for tested individuals to take the further necessary steps to ensure that their future children will be protected from the alternative circumstances. Nowadays especially, due to the scientific community’s advancements in this field, communities that are prone to such circumstances have a wide variety of options that they can choose from. By choosing to get screened, students took active steps to ensure a happier and healthier future for their progeny.
Special thanks to Sara Frieberg, Co-Director of OU-JLIC at Rutgers, for organizing the event. Bringing expert medical services right onto campus to take saliva and blood samples made it possible for so many more students to get screened. It was greatly appreciated by the students who grabbed at the opportunity!