JScreen launches BRCA screening study for Ashkenazi Jews in metro-Atlanta

July 22, 2019

JScreen, a national at-home genetic screening program based at Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Human Genetics, has announced the launch of a research initiative focused on BRCA screening for cancer risk for metro-Atlanta area people with Ashkenazi (Eastern or Central European) Jewish background. The research is conducted in partnership with Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

The PEACH (Program for Evaluation of Ashkenazi Cancer Heritability) BRCA Study will provide free genetic screening for men and women with Ashkenazi Jewish background who do not have a personal or close family history of BRCA-related cancers, but are at increased risk for carrying a BRCA mutation based on their ancestry.

A person who tests positive for a BRCA mutation is at significant risk for developing certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Those who learn that they have a mutation will be provided with options for cancer risk-reduction and will be referred for appropriate follow-up care.

"This program is a profound opportunity to promote health and knowledge in our Atlanta community,” says philanthropist and JScreen donor Bernie Marcus. “There is an obvious need to make testing more accessible for this population, and I want to be a part of finding solutions to this challenge. When people have more information about their genetic risks, they can manage their health, live longer, and make the most informed decisions for themselves and their families.”

Eligibility for the study will be based on meeting all the following study criteria:

  • At least one Ashkenazi Jewish grandparent
  • Age 25 or over
  • Metro-Atlanta resident
  • No prior BRCA testing
  • No significant personal or close family history of BRCA-related cancers

Eligible participants will provide a saliva sample for detailed testing of their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and will receive their results from a certified genetic counselor by phone or secure video conference. There is no charge to participate in the study.

Ashkenazi Jews are ten times more likely than non-Jews to have a BRCA mutation. Despite this risk, insurers will only cover testing if someone has a personal or close family history of BRCA-related cancers. “We are thrilled to be launching this research initiative under the direction of medical oncologist Dr. Jane Meisel of Winship Cancer Institute,” says Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, executive director of JScreen. “We are hopeful that the results of this study will impact testing guidelines, making BRCA screening for this high-risk population more accessible and affordable.”

The PEACH BRCA Study is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Marcus Foundation, the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation, the Kay Family Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, and The Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.