13 June 2008

Michigan: Ashkenazi genetics, June 22

Genetics and our individual family histories can inform us about our ancestors and provide information for our descendants.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan (JGSMI) will address this issue at its next meeting when Gary S. Frohlich, a genetics counselor and patient care liaison at Genzyme Therapeutics, will speak on "Our Heritage and Our Health-Facts About Genetic Conditions Among the Ashkenazim, The Importance of Being Informed."

The 23rd annual Morris (z'l) and Betty Starkman Lecture and Luncheon will begin at 11.30am Sunday, June 22 at Congregation Dovid Ben Nuchim, in Oak Park. Election of officers for the new year will also take place.

The program will provide information about genetic conditions which occur more frequently in Jews of Ashkenazi descent. Most people have heard about Tay Sachs; but how many have heard about Gaucher's disease?

A genetics counselor for 30 years - he has seen more than 26,000 couples - Frohlich holds a BA in biology and a Master's degree (Rutgers University) in human genetics and genetics counseling in 1973

Ashkenazi Jews have a significantly higher incidence for many genetic disorders and this program will provide up-to-date information on the genetic conditions which occur more frequently in Jews of Ashkenazi descent.

Each disorder can be devastating, not only to individuals, but to their families. He will explore the diagnosis, management and treatment of 11 Ashkenazi Jewishg genetic conditions, focusing on the most common, Gaucher's disease.

More than 9 out of 10 Jewish Americans are unaware of the disease, about 1 in 450 may have it, and the carrier rate is about 1 in 14. It is two-and-a-half times more common than Tay Sachs.

Participants will learn about “Founder Effect” among Ashkenazim, learn about 11 genetic conditions, understand the signs and symptoms of Gaucher, and learn about living with a chronic disease.

Lunch is sponsored by Genzyme Therapeutics; event registration is $25 per person. For details, click here.

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