By Leia Rubinstein
The annual JScreen Genetic Carrier Screening at Stern College looked a little different this year. Despite the pandemic, JScreen was determined to hold a drive at Stern, and this was accomplished by creating a virtual screening event. Participants were encouraged to order genetic testing kits to their house or dorm room and join others via Zoom while they performed the test. A special thank you is due all the student councils from YC and Stern for their generous donations that allowed the cost of the kits to be reduced to $54, making it much more affordable for YU students.
JScreen is a genetic screening and education program, in association with Emory University, that offers comprehensive, at-home saliva tests. JScreen’s goal is providing every individual with the necessary knowledge to determine the risk of passing on genetic diseases to their children. JScreen tests for more than 200 genetic diseases, including those that are commonly found within the Jewish population (Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrachi) and may be absent from other standard genetic tests. Someone with a recessive gene for a given condition would likely not exhibit signs of being a carrier for that condition, but the person is still at risk of passing it on to his/her offspring if his/her partner is also a carrier. JScreen provides the opportunity for couples to know ahead of time if they are “at risk,” enabling them to take the proper steps toward having healthy children.
JScreen makes it easy to get genetic testing from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is request a kit online through the JScreen website, and a saliva collection kit will be sent to you. (JScreen explains exactly what to do in this short video.) Upon sending back your completed kit, you will receive your results and get a chance to speak with a genetic counselor to discuss how to proceed. By giving a spit, you’ll be better prepared to have children in a smart and safe way.