Genetics: The Angelina Jolie Effect – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Genetics: The Angelina Jolie Effect

Yale research scientist Ellen T. Matloff will present a talk titled “The Angelina Jolie Effect: Genetic Testing in 2013” on Thursday, Oct. 24, as part of the Max and Marian Farash Community Lecture series at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The director of cancer genetic counseling at the Yale Cancer Center/Yale School of Medicine, Matloff will discuss what patients should expect from genetic testing and provide information to help them understand the results. As a highly publicized example, Angelina Jolie’s proactive, preventative double mastectomy will be discussed. The article will be livestreamed on WEOS-FM.

Matloff served as a plaintiff in the recent groundbreaking case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June. Matloff and others successfully argued that genes are naturally occurring and, therefore, not patentable.

“The patenting of genes is probably the one issue that affects every human being in the entire world,” says Matloff. “Male, female, black, white, Hispanic, sick, healthy, we all have genes, and with our knowledge from the human genome project, we have the ability to use this information to predict disease, and to make health care more effective and more efficient. Patents get in the way of that.”

“The court ruling will allow patients to have cheaper, faster and better genetic testing in the future”, Matloff says. “This decision affects not only men and women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, but it also has a far reaching impact on the future of genetics and accessibility and for patients.”

The lecture is made possible by the generous support of a grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Rochester, N.Y.,  that values the importance of education and entrepreneurship and has deep consideration for religious and civic communities. The foundation provides grants to nonprofits organizations in Monroe and Ontario counties, of which half are for projects and programs with ties to Jewish life.

“We are delighted that the Max and Marian Farash Foundation has made it possible for us to bring Ms. Matloff back to Geneva to enlighten our community on the recent advances and developments in BRCA I and II and genetic testing,” says Lorinda Weinstock, director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life at HWS.  “During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are fortunate to have someone of her experience and expertise bring us up to date on the recent developments in a subject which has undergone such rapid advances. Genetic testing will have a huge impact on all our lives in the future. Ellen will help us all understand this new approach to medical care.”

The Yale Cancer Center’s Cancer Genetic Counseling Program provides genetic counseling and testing to people at increased risk for hereditary cancer and helps them to make informed medical decisions based upon their own personal risk assessment. These interventions can help those at risk to better manage their health and reduce the chances of ever developing cancer.

Having begun her career as the first cancer genetic counselor at the Yale School of Medicine, Matloff provides counseling to individuals and families who are considering undergoing genetic testing. She specializes in hereditary breast, and ovarian, and colon cancer syndromes, and rare cancers. 

She is the daughter of retired Drs. David and Martha Matloff of Geneva. After graduating from Geneva High School, she received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Union College and a master’s degree in genetic counseling from Northwestern University. Matloff joined Yale in 1995 to start the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program, which is now one of the largest in the country. She has lectured internationally on cancer genetics, and has published extensively on the topic of cancer genetic counseling and testing. 

Her lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room. The event is free and open to the public.

The Max and Marian Farash Community Lecture is part of a collaborative effort of the Colleges’ Abbe Center for Jewish Life, Religious Life Office, Religious Studies Department, and the Office of the President.

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