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.
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.
"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."
About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation's premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Einstein is home to 724 M.D. students, 248 Ph.D.students, 117 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 368 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has 2,522 fulltime faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. 2011, Einstein received nearly $170 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center - Einstein's founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn, Einstein runs one of the largest post-graduate medical training programs in the United States, offering approximately 155 residency programs to more than 2,200 physicians in training. For more information, please visit http://www.einstein.yu.edu/home/default.asp and follow us on Twitter @EinsteinMed.
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