1What is the GENEius programme?
‘GENEius’ is an education and screening programme developed for young Jewish adults. The programme, delivered by Jnetics, educates about Jewish genetic disorders (JGDs) and the importance of screening; and provides access to responsible and affordable screening for 9 severe, recessive JGDs.
GENEius aims to shift the mindset of the UK Jewish community, so that education and screening for severe JGDs becomes standard practice – as it is in Jewish communities internationally – preventing new cases of these devastating disorders in the future.
2What are Jewish genetic disorders (JGDs)?
Jewish people, as with all ethnic groups, are at greater risk of inheriting certain genetic conditions relative to the general population.
Many people have heard of Tay-Sachs, but research has identified other serious genetic disorders that disproportionately affect people of Jewish ancestry. Like Tay-Sachs, these can also be prevented through carrier screening.
3What is carrier screening?
Carrier screening is a test that identifies if a person is a ‘carrier’ of a genetic condition.
Carriers of recessive conditions are NOT affected themselves but are at high risk of passing on a disorder to their children if their partner is also a carrier of the SAME disorder.
4Who is the GENEius programme for?
The GENEius Programme is Jnetics' pioneering, student-focused education and screening initiative, targeting both Jewish Y12 students and Jewish university students across the country. GENEius varies across these groups but always includes education and facilitating access to screening.
To be eligible to participate in GENEius screening, participants must:
• be 16 years old or over
• have one or more Jewish grandparent (either Ashkenazi or Sephardi/Mizrahi)
5Is GENEius screening relevant to someone with absolutely no Jewish heritage?
NO. GENEius screening covers disorders that have increased prevalence in people with Jewish ancestry and therefore is not relevant to anyone with out at least one Jewish grandparent (either Ashkenazi or Sephardi/Mirzrahi)
6Is GENEius screening relevant for an individual with Sephardi-only ancestry?
Yes. The test offered via this programme was updated in September 2021, making it relevant to anyone of Jewish ancestry, including those who have only Sephardi heritage.
7Why is JGD screening so important?
While JGDs vary in severity, those covered in the GENEius screening can all be very debilitating, almost all cause shortened lifespan and a few are tragically fatal in childhood.
1 in 5 people of Jewish descent are a carrier of at least one severe JGD
Though rare, these conditions are devastating and most lack any effective treatment, and typically occur even when there is no known family history of the disorder.
Carrier screening helps you to identify if you are at increased risk of passing on a severe genetic disorder and enables you to consider the different options available to reduce the chances of having an affected child.
8Which JGDs are covered in the GENEius screening?
The test offered via GENEius covers 47 of the most common severe, recessive Jewish genetic disorders, chosen with guidance from our Scientific and Medical Advisors and clinical partners at North West Thames Regional Genetic Service.
For a full list of these conditions please click here.
PLEASE NOTE: BRCA screening is NOT included
in the GENEius screening test. – click here.
. For more Information about BRCA-associated cancers.
9No-one in my family has been affected by these disorders, do I still need to be screened?
YES. Over 95% of the couples with children affected by a disorder have no family history of the condition because the gene is silently passed on through generations by healthy carriers.
10What does GENEius screening involve?
• On-line registration – student an appointment at the event and complete a short form.
• Screening - registered students attend a screening event, either in-person or virtually, and meet with a trained screening advisor reviews key information, answers any questions you have. Students then provides a saliva sample. (If the event is virtual, students receive a 'screening pack' in the post prior to the event, and post their sample back to Jnetics afterwards).
• Analysis - saliva samples are sent to an accredited lab for analysis.
• Results - results are processed by a dedicated NHS genetic counsellor (GC) who emails results to the students up to 16 weeks after your screening. Follow-up phone-calls with the GC are arranged for any carriers identified.
11If I’m found to be a carrier of one of the disorders, will I develop the condition?
NO. Carriers of these recessive disorders DO NOT develop the condition/s themselves. However if you and (future) partner are BOTH carriers of the SAME condition then you are AT RISK of passing on the condition to your children. Anyone who is identified as a carrier is strongly recommended to make sure that in the future, their partner is screened too before starting a family.
12What are the implications if I am found to be a carrier of one of the disorders?
• With recessive disorders, BOTH partners in a couple need to be carriers of the SAME condition for there to be a risk of having affected children. Where this is the case, with each pregnancy, there is a 25% chance that the child will be affected (develop the condition). .
• It is extremely advisable for individuals who are identified as carriers to ensure that the partner is also screened before planning a family (that may not be for numerous years - if you misplace your results during this time, you can always access a copy from your GP/the NHS). .
• If you find out that you are a carrier, it is also suitable to inform your siblings. There is a 50% chance that your sibling will also be a carrier of the same recessive disorder..
13I’m not planning children anytime soon so why would I get screened now?
The GENEius programme provides a quick, accessible and (currently) fully-subsidised screening service for students. If you prefer to be screened later, Jnetics runs a twice-monthly virtual screening clinic where screening, though part subsided, costs £350 per couples and £250 per person. For more information about this go to www.jnetics.org/screening
14Will 'GENEius University Screening Week' (GUSW) be delivered again?
Yes. The first GUSW was an incredible success and we now plan to deliver it annually going forwards. Email email@example.com to register your interest in the next GUSW.
15Where can someone get screened if they haven’t been able take part in a GENEius school or university screening?
Jnetics has a virtual screening clinic - The Jnetics Clinic - through which participants can get screened for the same 47 severe recessive JGDs. Though part subsidised, participants at the clinic pay the a reduced cost of £350 per couples or £250 per person to attend. Click here.
for more information and booking.
16How much does GENEius screening cost?
The actual cost is £300 per person – but, through funds raised by Jnetics, GENEius screening is currently available fully subsidised for students in Year 12 at Jewish schools and at University.
Jnetics can only continue to offer FREE screening to students as long as it has the needed funds. If able, any contribution you/your family can make to pay for screening will help enable the charity to provide screening to future students. Contributions can be made here
17How can I register for a GENEius screening?
Click on the Schools or University links in the menu to view upcoming screening events.
18Will the results of my test be kept confidential?
The results of your carrier screening test will be delivered directly to the Jnetics genetic counsellor at Northwick Hospital who will only share the results with you. The results of your test are strictly confidential and will not be shared with any additional parties unless you request otherwise.
19Will being found to be a carrier affect in my medical insurance in any way?
There should not be any ramifications of being a carrier of a recessive condition with regard to any kind of insurance.
20I know I’m not a Tay-Sachs carrier, do I still need to be tested for the other disorders?
YES. Carrier status for one disorder has no impact on carrier status for the other disorders.
21I want to be screened with Dor Yeshorim, can I do GENEius screening too?
Dor Yeshorim screening is appropriate for people who plans on finding a partner via the ‘shidduch system’. PLEASE NOTE: Dor Yeshorim will not screen someone who has been informed of their results from a different screening programme, such as the GENEius screening.
All eligible students can have GENEius screening, however, if you know that you want to be part of the ‘shidduch system’, then Dor Yeshorim may be more appropriate screening option for you.
22If I am planning a family with a same sex partner in the future is screening relevant?