(Minkoff Center for Jewish Genetics) Established in 2004 by Dr. Sherman* and Andi Minkoff, the Jewish Genetic Diseases Center of Greater Phoenix was created to serve the Phoenix Jewish Community. The Center’s mission was (and is) to provide awareness, education and screening for Jewish genetic diseases. Both Sherman* and Andi believed that our Jewish Community would be served by providing individuals knowledge of their genetic status.

The first prenatal screening was held in 2005. Two events were held each year and served around 50-70 individuals at each event. In 2007, the Center’s office moved out of the Minkoffs’ living room and into the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale. Staff was hired to put on programming year around and a board of directors was formed.

Prenatal screening events continued twice a year until 2018 when screenings were changed to a mix of events and on demand as needed. We were able to provide screenings on all three major college campuses in Arizona. 2018 was also the year when we changed our test kits from requiring a blood draw to a saliva kit. We had an ability to mail kits out to individuals who weren’t able to come to our events and to test those that were not willing to submit to a blood draw. We tripled the number of prenatal tests provided in 2018 due to those small but significant changes.

In the early days of the Center, we screened for 4 diseases, most notably Tay Sachs. Over the years we have increased our prenatal family panel to test for over 104 different diseases. We provide prenatal screening on demand and have several genetic counselors that work with us to provide one-on-one personalized service.

We hold one major fundraising event a year in February and partner with local agencies throughout the year for educational and awareness activities. Please see our calendar page for upcoming events.

New in 2019- we launched our BRCA screening and referral program. All Jews over the age of 25 with Ashkenazi heritage are invited to join our program. We provide testing to those with no family history of cancer- and will refer those with family history of cancer to the proper testing facilities in the Valley. You may sign up at any time to speak with our BRCA Program Director. Our BRCA screening events are held at the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale in October and May of each year.

Our dear founder Sherman* passed away in March of 2018. Up until the time of his passing he was an active participant in our Medical Advisory Committee and was in the room when our BRCA program was approved unanimously. At our annual event in February of 2019, we officially renamed the Jewish Genetic Diseases Center of Greater Phoenix to the Minkoff Center for Jewish Genetics. We are honored to carry on Sherman’s legacy and to carry his vision of a Jewish Community free of genetic diseases into the future.

This article was originally posted on Minkoff Center for Jewish Genetics.

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