June 11, 2013 – (BRONX, NY) – Today, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University convened a one-day conference on Jewish genetics designed to encourage collaboration and advance the field of research. Such research could help scientists identify causes and potential treatments for population-specific diseases as well as more common disorders afflicting the general population.
Harry Ostrer, M.D., Gil Atzmon, Ph.D. The genetic makeup of Ashkenazi Jews is relatively homogenous, which makes it easier to identify gene variations that cause disease. By bringing together scientists who investigate Jewish genetics with those at disease-specific research centers, the conference organizers hope to encourage new, productive research partnerships that could uncover the causes of debilitating conditions.
Twenty researchers from ten institutions are participating. From diabetes and arthritis to intellectual disabilities and Alzheimer's disease, a range of disorders are represented. Scientists studying Jewish genetics as well as those working with Latino/Hispanic, Amish and other racial and ethnic groups will also attend.
"We would like to see new research centers or other large-scale, multi-investigator studies established that can mine Jewish genomic data for clues to disease," said Harry Ostrer, M.D., one of the conference organizers and professor of pathology, of genetics, and of pediatrics at Einstein and director of genetic and genomic testing at Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital for Einstein.
"We would like to see new research centers or other large-scale, multi-investigator studies established that can mine Jewish genomic data for clues to disease."-- Harry Ostrer, M.D.
"Several fruitful collaborations have already occurred in the field – including the Jewish HapMap Project and The Ashkenazi Genome Consortium – and we would like to expand that," noted Gil Atzmon, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Einstein.
In addition to Drs. Ostrer and Atzmon, other organizers of the conference are Nicole Schreiber-Argus, Ph.D., assistant professor of genetics at Einstein and Itsik Pe'er, Ph.D., at Columbia University.
The one-day event is titled "Genetic Research and Discovery in Jewish Populations: Toward Large-Scale Sustainable Efforts."