Genetics


DNA and You — Personalized Genomics Goes Jewish

The Human Genome Project turned 10 this year. In the decade since scientists first published our genetic blueprint, huge strides have been made in understanding the biological basis of inherited disease, the history of humankind and the role that genetics can play in modern medicine.Read More


May You Live Until 120: DNA Uncovers Secrets To Jewish Longevity

By Allison Gaudet Yarrow

Life expectancy has risen steadily in recent years, with the average American now living for close to 80 years. But that’s nothing compared to the lifespans of people mentioned in the Bible. According to Genesis, Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, lived the longest, at 969 years of age, with others, including Adam and his kin, not far behind. But even lesser biblical lifespans are astronomical by today’s standards. Abraham reportedly lived to 175; Moses to 120.Read More


Sephardi Mutations Raise Calls for Expanded Test

By Naomi Zeveloff

Researchers have discovered the first mutations responsible for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer among “pure” Sephardi Jews, leading to calls for a more comprehensive genetic test for high-risk women in Israel. “When a woman of Sephardic origin used to come to our clinic, we would tell her, ‘You are not Ashkenazi, so you might have a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, but it is hard to find it,’” said Dr. Michal Sagi, a genetic counselor at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, referencing the two genes that predispose women to breast and ovarian cancer.Read More


Higher Tech Lowers Cost Of Genetic Screening

By Andrew Tobin

Screening for genetic disorders has come a long way since the first tests for Tay-Sachs disease in the late 1960s. At the time, clinicians screened the Jewish community by measuring enzyme levels in people’s blood. But in the late 1980s, newer genetic tests became available for Tay-Sachs and, soon after, for a range of other so-called “Jewish genetic diseases” including Canavan disease, cystic fibrosis and Fanconi anemia.Read More


A Tremor in the Research Force

By Karen Iris Tucker

Genetics has long been thought to play a relatively minor role when it comes to the development of Parkinson’s disease. So it came as a surprise to the medical community five years ago when Dr. Susan Bressman and her colleagues at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York reported that a single genetic mutation in a gene called LRRK2 accounted for a significant portion of all cases of Parkinson’s disease among Ashkenazi Jews.Read More


New Technology Identifies Genes Behind Rare Eye Disorder

By Talia Bloch

Scientists are using a revolutionary technique to pinpoint genetic problems that cause a rare eye disorder. It could transform treatments and prevent blindness.Read More


Genes Tell Tale of Jewish Ties to Africa

By Gianna Palmer

Jewish lore tells of trade and other exchanges with sub-Saharan Africa. A new scientific paper uses DNA to prove an ancient genetic link between Jews and Africans.Read More


Could Kashrut Be Partly To Blame for Crohn's Disease?

By Talia Bloch

Jews are much more likely than others to contract Crohn’s disease, leading scientists to suspect a genetic link. Could kosher diet and an urban lifestyle be the real cause?Read More


For Henry’s Sake: Pioneering a Genetic Frontier

By Laurie Strongin

Ten years ago, the first-ever bone-marrow transplant was performed using the umbilical cord blood of a baby deliberately selected and implanted through a combination of in-vitro fertilization and genetic testing to save the life of his older sibling.Read More


Laurie Strongin Discusses Her Fight To Save Her Son

By Nate Lavey

In this audio slideshow, author Laurie Strongin speaks with the Forward’s Nate Lavey about her efforts to save her son Henry, who was diagnosed with Fanconi Anemia — a genetic disease most common in Ashkenazic Jews.Read More





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