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On June 10th, 2012, I'll be running my first marathon, in Lake Placid, NY. While this started out as a personal goal, I've decided to raise money for the Huntington's Disease Society of America as part of my effort.
Huntington's disease is a genetically inherited, incurable, neuordegenerative disorder. Its symptoms usually begin when patients are in their 40s and progress over a 10-20 year time span, leading to motor, cognitive and psychiatric decline. Patients suffering from Huntington's Disease have a mutant copy for the 'Huntingtin' gene which codes for a mutant form of the 'Huntingtin' protein. Though scientists are still researching the cellular and biophysical mechanisms behind the disease, it is known that the mutant Huntingtin protein causes the destruction of neurons in the brain, which leads to the devastating symptoms associated with the disease. Furthermore, the disease is hereditary. Since patients possess a mutant copy of the gene, there is a 50 percent chance that any one of their children will also develop the disease.
My personal interest in Huntington's disease started as a scientific one. For one of my classes in the Biomedical Engineering department here at Cornell, I read some of the scientific literature on the mechanisms of the disease and possible therapeutic interventions. Recently, my interest has shifted from bench to bedside, from learning about the proteins to learning about how this disease affects patients and their loved ones. While all current therapies are only able to mitigate symptoms, I think a cure for this disease is within reach. To this end, I'll be running in support of those suffering from the disease and in support of a cure. I hope that in support of this effort, you can make a modest contribution to the Huntington's Disease Society of America, which is a major source of funding for Huntington's-related medical research, and support for those living with the disease.
For an unflinching portrait of those suffering from the disease, I recommend this video: www.youtube.com/watch
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