03 Dec 2020

GENEius University Screening Week Exceeded All Expectation!

Jnetics delivered their first ever virtual GENEius University Screening Week (GUSW) from November 23 – 29 2020. GUSW was a week-long virtual event through which Jewish university students across the UK were able to take part in carrier screening for 9 of the most severe Jewish genetic disorders (JGDs) for free and from home. Sign Ups to the event exceeded all expectation, with 260 students , across the whole of the UK signing up.
 
GENEius is Jnetics’ flagship education and screening initiative focusing on Jewish students in Y12 and at universities. Through GENEius, students are educated about JGDs and the importance of carrier screening in their prevention, and then able to access free and responsible carrier screening for 9 of the most severe recessive JGDs. Via screening, they have the opportunity find out if they ‘carry’ a JGD and therefore gain the crucial information they need to avoid passing on a severe and incurable disorder to their future children
 
“Participating in GUSW was quick and easy”, Greg Blank, GENEius Programme Manager explained. “Students first pre-registered online and chose one of the many virtual screening appointments available across the week. Then they received a screening pack in the post containing a saliva kit. Their virtual appointment took place via video-call with a trained volunteer ‘screening advisor’ during which the saliva sample given. After the appointment, students simply returned their sample to Jnetics in their prepaid return envelope. Results will be returned via email from the Jnetics dedicated genetic counsellor up to 16 weeks later, and any carriers identified will be offered a follow-up phone call too”.
 
To ensure the success of GUSW, Jnetics recruited over 25 GENEius Campus Reps, whose job it was to advertise the event and encourage their peers to sign up. Rebecca Franklin, one of the Reps who is studying at Hertfordshire university commented; ‘I wanted to become a GENEius campus rep to help spread awareness about genetic disorders within the Jewish community. I was privileged enough to have the chance to be screened and I want to encourage more young adults to take up this amazing opportunity. I’m excited to be involved in and work with such an amazing organisation and to hopefully make a difference to the future of our community”
 
This initiative also had the full support of the Union of Jewish Students, University Jewish Chaplaincy, as well several Aish and Chabad Robbonim on campus, Habonim, RSY, Noam, LJY and Bnei Akiva. All of whom were instrumental in publicising the event and ensuring as many Jewish students as possible were able to take part.
 
The test covers 9 severe recessive disorders, that although not exclusively Jewish have increased prevalence in the Ashkenazi Jewish population compared to the general one. These disorders, including Tay Sachs, Familial Dysautonomia and Bloom Syndrome, are all devastating, incurable and life shortening conditions that are entirely preventable via carrier screening. Similar international student screening programmes covering these disorders have had immense success- virtually eradicating these disorders form the community.
 
“The cost for one student to get screened is £300, but Jnetics fully subsidised this cost” Nicole Gordon Jnetics’ CEO explained. “ We are hugely grateful to our event sponsors, The Beaverbrooks Trust, The Sylvia- Adams Trust and the Dr Angel Benjamin Foundation who made this initiative possible”