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23andMe, Morehouse School of Medicine Team Up on Sickle Cell Carrier Awareness

NEW YORK – 23andMe, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia (SCFG) said Tuesday that they are launching an awareness program for genetic carriers of sickle cell disease.

Under the new collaboration, 23andMe will provide free Health+Ancestry DNA testing kits to students, faculty, and staff at MSM, a historically Black medical school in Atlanta. The Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia will then offer counseling for those who test positive for sickle cell trait.

The partners said that the collaboration represents a step forward for genetic and genomic equity in an underserved population. 23andMe said that 1 in 13 people in the US of African descent has sickle cell trait or is a carrier for sickle cell anemia.

The US Food and Drug Administration-authorized 23andMe assay includes a sickle cell anemia carrier status report on the sickle hemoglobin (HbS) variant in the HBB gene.

"In addition to educating more people on their carrier status, genetic health risks, and potential risks for family members, we believe this collaboration can contribute to more equitable research in, and product development for, groups of non-European ancestry," Joyce Tung, VP for research at 23andMe, said in a statement.

"The collaboration between MSM, 23andMe, and the SCFG offers the potential for impact at scale," Herman Taylor, director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at MSM. "Working together, we have the opportunity to share scientific and health insights for diseases that impact those in the Black and African American community at higher rates, allowing individuals to address health risks early and prevent disease."