'Health basket genetic tests greatly benefited Beduin'

Ben-Gurion University Prof. Rivka Carmi explains that government-provided testing reduced child mortality in Beduin children.

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January 19, 2011 22:27
1 minute read.
Strings of DNA

Strings of DNA 311. (photo credit: Wikipedia images)

 
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Israel is the only country in the world to include genetic testing in its basket of health services, according to Ben- Gurion University of the Negev president Rivka Carmi.

She said this move followed research in which she showed that such tests can reduce child mortality in Beduin children.

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Carmi, a physician, geneticist and pediatrician who previously was dean of BGU’s health sciences faculty, said at a science gathering in Tel Aviv on Wednesday that early diagnosis of severe genetic disease has been very beneficial to the Beduin community in the Negev.

Her lecture kicked off a series of talks at the Dov Yudkovsky Center in Beit Sokolov, home of the Tel Aviv Journalists Association, and was the latest in its “Science Cafe” series of BGU public lectures launched last year. So far, 30 BGU faculty members have taken part.

Carmi’s study concentrated on the clinical and molecular characteristics of inherited diseases in the Negev’s Beduin population, and included over 100 scientific articles, including one that described 12 new genes and three new genetic syndromes (including one named for Carmi). She and her research team have in recent years discovered phenomena unique to the Negev community that result from inbreeding through the marriage of cousins, including the lack of a growth hormone that causes abnormal height, as well as deafness and rare genetic disorders.

Her speech aroused much interest among the standingroom- only audience of journalists, who asked her many questions about her research.

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