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Not “highs and lows;” more so “fasts and slows”

As I finish up the second month of research in the Rheumatology Department here at Mayo Clinic, I’ve come to get accustomed to the feeling and pattern of lab life. Coming into this research experience, I was not at all aware of what to expect in terms of work load, and every day I’d leave the lab with a different emotion.

I found myself antsy after days where I would simply be conducting literature searches and lab prep, and I also found myself flustered when I had two or three patient samples come in simultaneously for processing.

The highlight of these fluctuating events, however, is that the reality of the situation dawned on me: eight to 10 weeks in a summer is a mere snapshot of a working lab. Research is never done, and for every week there is of seemingly not doing much but reading, there is a month down the line of executing a project the literature helped design. Therefore, ...

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Anoohya Muppirali
Anoohya Muppirali
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The patient behind the test tube: the true beauty of translational research

Hello everyone! My name is Anu Muppirala and I was given the wonderful opportunity to conduct lupus research at Mayo Clinic in the Rheumatology Department alongside Dr. Uma Thanarajasingam, M.D., Ph.D. She has been an absolute joy to work with so far, and I look forward to gaining a better understanding of lupus as I assist her in the fascinating research questions she is pursuing.

To provide a bit of background, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by high levels of a cytokine known as Type 1-interferon alpha (IFN- α). Cytokines are signaling molecules that are released during an immune response, which trigger the activation of immune system cells, like B cells, as well as helper or cytotoxic T cells.

Since high IFN- α levels are a trademark of patients with SLE, it would seem logical that a drug which inhibits IFN- α production would help alleviate lupus symptoms. However, within an SLE patient group taking one such drug, ...

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Anoohya Muppirali
Anoohya Muppirali
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Introducing the project

Hi, everyone! I’m Emily Fellows, a Lupus Foundation of Minnesota Summer Fellow working in Dr. Timothy Niewold’s lab at the Mayo Clinic. First, I would like to thank the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota for providing me this amazing opportunity to not only learn more about systemic lupus erythematosus, but to contribute to the ongoing research efforts directed towards developing a better understanding of lupus, its treatments, and various diagnostic methods.

Dr. Niewold’s lab studies the pathogenesis of various autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and more. In particular, Dr. Niewold’s lab explores how genetic factors and variations contribute to the presence of autoimmune disease and how interferon levels impact the immune system response. My work this summer addresses the genetic variations of lupus in regards to lupus-induced kidney disease, or lupus nephritis.

Alongside Dr. Yogita Ghodke, I will be exploring a gene called Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) and its multiple polymorphisms that have been expressed in end-stage renal disease African-American ...

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Emily Fellows
Emily Fellows
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Settling into the lab

Hello! My name is Blair Stewig and I am fortunate to be conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Niewold and Dr. Theresa Wampler Muskardin at the Mayo Clinic this summer. As a Lupus Foundation of Minnesota Summer Fellow, I not only have the opportunity to learn a great deal in lab, but also a chance to experience what it is like to work on a project that could potentially improve the diagnosis and treatment of a disease. I am so thrilled to be contributing to the scientific community and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds.

My research this summer concerns the question of if the cytokine (signaling molecule) interferon alpha and/or beta is present in patient sera – extracted from blood samples – from tuberculosis and inflammatory bowel disease patients. If there is interferon activity, we will be able to quantify and ratio the activity levels. These cytokines have been found in ...

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Blair Stewig
Blair Stewig
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Marking a milestone: looking back on my lupus diagnosis

If you have ever been sick, please read. If you haven’t, count your blessings and please keep reading.

The day is March 10 and this day six years ago marks the first day down a hellish six-month path to lupus. I had nighttime fevers for two nights until I walked into urgent care. This was the beginning of a whirlwind crisis; I was advised to rush to the ER.

It was thought I had an infection of some sort, but nothing was showing up. I was given medication to help combat this, but ended up having a very severe and life-threatening reaction to it.

So starts the hospital snowball effect.

I had so many ER visits I eventually just left my bag packed next to my bed. I cried every time on the way to the hospital because I felt like such a disappointment to everyone around me, especially my husband at the time. I was affecting his sleep too because you can only go ...

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Chris Cronick
Chris Cronick
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Disruptions to best laid plans and intentions

When I took to the role of Ambassador, I was excited to help promote all the events and learning experiences the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota (LFM) has to offer. I have participated in many events and have always come away with new knowledge and, most importantly, a great sense of fulfillment from spending time with fellow individuals living with lupus. I was happy to represent the Foundation and looked forward to further connecting with others living with this disease.

As many of you know, lupus sometimes messes with your best laid plans and intentions. This was certainly the case for me this year. Let me back up a bit to give you an idea of my lupus history and how this summer’s series of events led me here.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, lupus) and Sjogren’s Syndrome ...

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Larry Norgren
Larry Norgren
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Weighing the risks of pregnancy after two losses

October 24 is the date of my upcoming wedding. This is a very exciting time and I cannot wait to marry my best friend. With that being said, I also have a lot of anxiety because after the wedding and honeymoon, we are going to try having a baby.

In 2016, it will be 10 years since the first time I was pregnant which ended in complete devastation. I will never forget sitting excitedly in the doctor’s office waiting to once again hear the heartbeat of my little peanut, who was 18 weeks gestation at the time. When my doctor told me there was no heartbeat, I remember screaming inside, pleading with God not to do this. It had not been a planned pregnancy, but I was excited and already loved this little being more than anything. Once the initial shock wore off, I felt so alone and so empty.

Fast forward a year to 2007 and the awful scene repeated itself. ...

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Ashley Albertson
Ashley Albertson
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Fighting lupus with my support team by my side

“You’re going to need someone around to help when you are old and stuck in your hydraulic bed” was one of the first things my soon-to-be husband said to me before we were dating and he was trying to get close to me. At first, I thought it was really funny and quite cute, but then I realized this could be a real thing in my life, and the fact that he wanted to be there to help me really hit me hard.

Having lupus was something I denied for a long time after my diagnosis. I was 21 and refused to believe I was going to be chronically ill for the rest of my life. I avoided taking my prescriptions and let the disease eventually take over. After many trips to the emergency room, I finally accepted the fact that I have lupus and decided I was not going to let it control my life. I was going to fight ...

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Ashley Albertson
Ashley Albertson
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Introducing 2015 Lupus Co-Ambassador Larry Norgren

My name is Larry Norgren and I am honored to be one of this year’s Lupus Ambassadors for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota (meet my fellow 2015 Lupus co-Ambassador Ashley Albertson here).

I was born in and went to school in Two Harbors and got married and raised my family there. I have two grown children, a son and a daughter, as well as one adult grandson. After graduating from high school, I started working at the Reserve Mining Company in Silver Bay. After 20 years there, the plant closed down and I had the opportunity to go to school at Hibbing Community College. After graduating with a degree in Radiological Technology,…

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Larry Norgren
Larry Norgren
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Introducing 2015 Lupus Co-Ambassador Ashley Albertson

My name is Ashley Albertson and I am one of this year’s Lupus Ambassadors for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota (meet my fellow 2015 Lupus co-Ambassador Larry Norgren here).

I was diagnosed with lupus in 2009 after delivering two stillborns (at 18 weeks and 28 weeks gestation) and two years of intensive testing. I currently live in the St. Paul area with my fiancé Justin and two stepdaughters, Megan (9) and Anna (7). Working at BOB-FM 106.1, I thought my unique position as an on-air personality could really help spread the word and bring awareness to lupus.…

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Ashley Albertson
Ashley Albertson
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