28 February 2010

Maryland: Ashkenazi genetics, March 7

Gary Frohlich will present "Whatever you wanted to know about Ashkenazi Jewish diseases," at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, on Sunday, March 7.

The program is at B'nai Israel Congregation, in Rockville, Maryland. It begins at 1pm with networking, registration and a business meeting. Frohlich's talk begins at 2pm.

A certified genetics counselor, he is senior medical affairs liaison for Genzyme Therapeutics.

The goals are to discuss the "founder effect" among Ashkenazim and learn about 11 common genetic conditions. According to Frohlich:

“During the Crusades, many Ashkenazi Jewish communities were driven from England, France and Germany and migrated to eastern Europe, settling primarily in modern-day Poland, Lithuania and Russia, Ashkenazi Jews tended to select marriage partners from within their own community, which played a role in limiting genetic diversity.”
Many European Jews did not have surnames until various countries required them, in some cases as late as the early 1800s.

Frohlich will provide up-to-date information on genetic conditions which occur more frequently in Jews of Ashkenazi descent. Each can be devastating to the individuals and their families.

The program will explore the diagnosis, management and treatment of these conditions with a focus on the most common, Gaucher disease. Approximately one in 850 people may have Gaucher, and the carrier rate is approximately 1 in 16. Gaucher disease is two and a half times more common than Tay-Sachs.

A genetics counselor for more than 35 years, Frohlich has advised more than 26,000 couples and authored scientific articles and pamphlets on Ashkenazi genetic conditions.

He holds a BA in Biology (New York University), and a MS in Human Genetics and Genetics Counseling (Rutgers University).

Those who plan to attend the program can submit their surname (original name in Europe or elsewhere) and Frohlich will check its connection to the Founders Effect. Only submit the surname, no personal information. He will use submitted names to illustrate his presentation. Send surnames prior to the meeting.

Fee: JGSGW members, free; others, $5.

For more details, including directions, click here.

Sources for additional genetic information:

Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium: jgdc.org
Gene Tests: genetests.org
National Society of Genetic Counselors: nsgc.org
Gaucher Disease: ngf.org

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