Jnetics, a UK charity devoted to preventing Jewish genetic disorders, has chosen the University of Leeds as the next stop for its new GENEius Universities Programme.
Leeds students will be only the second cohort of Jewish university students to be offered free screenings for nine of the most severe recessive Jewish genetic disorders (JGDs) – something that usually costs £190.
The programme will consist of a screening event, taking place on Mitzvah Day on 17th November, which will identify if an individual is a healthy carrier of one or more of the nine conditions. This gives them crucial information to use in the future when planning a family and is the vital first step in avoiding having a child with a severe JGD.
This new GENEius university initiative is an extension of Jnetics’ existing GENEius schools programme which has been running since 2017 and has so far screened over 1,000 Year 12 students. The screening, delivered in partnership with the NHS but funded by Jnetics, covers devastating and incurable recessive conditions that have increased prevalence in the Jewish community, such as Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, Blooms syndrome and familial dysautonomia.
Jnetics will be opening up the programme to sixth form students in the Leeds Jewish community too, allowing them to have access to JGD education and screening like Year 12 students in the main Jewish high schools across the UK.
It has recently been working with youth-focused organisations in the community to spread awareness and encourage participation of the event. Working alongside key figures in the student community, including the JSOC president and Student Jewish Medical Association president, it has recruited a team of student ambassadors who are passionate about the cause and have already started to create a buzz on campus.
Aviva Lewis, Jnetics northern outreach and development manager, who has been coordinating the project, said: “It is entirely appropriate that the university event will take part on Mitzvah Day. The students volunteering at the event and the ones getting screened will be taking part in something undeniably meaningful. They’ll be playing a part in eliminating Jewish genetic disorders from UK communities.
An official spokesperson from The London Beth Din also commented on the screening: “It is the fulfilment of a Mitzvah to take measures that can prevent illness and enhance the health of the community.”
If you are a sixth form student seeking to take part in the upcoming university event, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For non-students who wish to take part in Jnetics’ carrier screening, visit Jnetics.org/screening or email email@example.com.