02 March 2008

San Francisco: Jewish genetic diseases, March 16

Statistical geneticist Neil Risch, PhD, will present a program on Jewish genetic diseases for the Jewish Genealogical Society of the San Francisco Bay Area, on Sunday, March 16, at 1pm.

The meeting takes place at San Francisco's Jewish Community High School.

Dr. Neil Risch will explain how modern genetics can reveal insights helpful to genealogists, such as the historical relationship among different Jewish groups and evidence of Jewish migrations. As a human geneticist, Dr. Risch has been particularly interested in the inheritance of genetic diseases in Jewish populations.

The term "Jewish genetic diseases” applies to conditions that afflict Ashkenazi Jews as much as 20 to 100 times more frequently than they affect the general population. Known for his collaborative work on numerous genetic diseases including torsion dystonia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis, Dr. Risch emphasizes the links between population genetics and clinical application.

Risch is director of the Institute for Human Genetics and professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco. He has held faculty appointments at Columbia, Yale and Stanford Universities, and is a graduate of the UCLA biomathematics program. In a 2005 article, he was described by one of the field's founding fathers as "the statistical geneticist of our time" and "a mensch."

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