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World-famous PGD expert dies, aged 65

3 August 2009
Appeared in BioNews 519

Renowned fertility expert Dr. Yury Verlinsky died from colon cancer at the age of 65 on 16th July 2009. He was famous for pioneering the development PGD in the 90's, a technique which allows couples with a serious inherited disease in the family to screen their embryos against the condition. The technique has been used by families at risk of some 200 genetic disorders, including haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia, muscular dystrophy, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease. He was also among the first in the world to use chorionic villus sampling (CVS) in the early 80's, a technique for prenatal diagnosis still used in routine practice.

Dr Verlinsky's work made headlines around the world when he became the first to use PGD to enable a child to be born, not only free from a life-threatening genetic condition, but as a tissue match for his sick sibling. The result was Adam Nash, whose umbilical cord blood was used to cure his sister Molly, who had Fanconi anaemia and would not otherwise have been expected to survive.

In an obituary published in the New York Times this week, Dr. Andrew La Barbera, the scientific director for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said that Dr. Verlinsky had had a far-reaching impact on reproductive medicine:

‘Verlinsky was a giant in the field because he transformed PGD into a routine procedure that has enabled innumerable couples to conceive children free of genetic disease.'

Dr Verlinksky's set up the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago in the 1990's and the clinic continues to provide prenatal diagnosis to patients around the world.

Dr. Yury Verlinsky, 1943-2009: Expert in reproductive technology
Chicago Tribune |  20 July 2009
Yury Verlinsky (09/01/1943- 07/16/2009)
Reproductive Genetics Institute |  17 July 2009
Yury Verlinsky dies at 65; pioneered genetic testing method
LA Times |  22 July 2009
Yury Verlinsky, Expert in Embryonic Screening, Is Dead at 65
NY Times |  22 July 2009
11 December 2017 - by Norbert Gleicher 
A seemingly brilliant hypothesis of preimplantation genetic screening arose in the 1990s when Dr Yuri Verlinsky proposed using polar body biopsies to detect chromosomal abnormalities in embryos prior to transfer in IVF... Healthy embryos are discarded by unvalidated PGS
23 May 2011 - by Nishat Hyder 
The German parliament will debate the country’s law on PGD following the introduction of three separate bills on the issue. Two of the bills allow PGD under certain circumstances, the other calls for a total ban....
1 June 2010 - by Seil Collins 
Dr Wesley Whitten, whose pioneering work in the field of reproductive physiology, which made the study of pre-implantation embryos possible, passed away on 24th May 2010....
23 October 2000 - by BioNews 
Molly Nash, the six-year old American girl who received a bone marrow transplant using cells from the umbilical cord of her newborn baby brother, Adam, is recovering well, and should be ready to leave hospital this week. Before the operation Molly, who has Fanconi's anaemia and cannot produce enough of...
9 October 2000 - by BioNews 
A US couple have used genetic testing to ensure that their second child, a boy, is not only free of a rare inherited disease, but also able to provide his ill sister with a vital blood cell transplant. Jack and Lisa Nash used preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) - a technique in...
9 October 2000 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
This week's BioNews reports on US couple Jack and Lisa Nash, who used embryo screening (preimplantation genetic diagnosis, PGD) to ensure that their second child was both free of a serious inherited condition, and a suitable blood cell donor for his dying sister. The story sparked a media frenzy, with...
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