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Confirming my future direction

Confirming my future direction

Before the start of this fellowship, I was contemplating whether I wanted to go into medicine, research, or both. Upon talking to many mentors, I was leaning towards going into practicing medicine, but finding a way to also stay involved with research. However, although I have had a passion and interest in both for quite a while now, I wanted to experience more before I made the decision.

After the first several weeks of the fellowship under Dr. Peterson, I loved lab bench-work so much that I doubted my choice of being pre-med. It wasn’t that I loved medicine or the idea of helping patients any less; it was just that research was too much fun.

I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I know that research isn’t all wet lab and bench work. I know that there is a lot of writing grants and going to conferences and reviewing others’ work. It doesn’t matter. Research ...

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ayamamoto
Ami Yamamoto
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Channeling My Passion

Channeling My Passion

I have had a passion for medicine and research since mid-high school. However, I was not sure about whether I would pursue one, the other, both, or the integration of the two as my future career.

At the start of my undergraduate career, I was set on trying to get into the M.D., Ph.D. program to integrate the two fields, as well as apply myself in both settings, as I always loved biology and medicine and had experience with clinical and translational research previously. However, when I started working in a microtubule lab at the beginning of my sophomore year, I fell in love again with research and leaned heavily towards going into research as a career with a Ph.D.
 
For the next year, I struggled to figure out what direction was best for me by gaining more experience and by talking to many people. This is part of the reason that I decided to apply for this fellowship. Not ...

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ayamamoto
Ami Yamamoto
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Introducing My Lupus Research Project

Introducing My Lupus Research Project

My name is Ami Yamamoto, and I have the great opportunity of being one of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota’s  Student Summer Fellows for 2013. This summer, I am studying under Erik Peterson, M.D., in the Department of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.

As I will write about in more detail in a later post, my project is to contribute to research on the gene PTPN22 which Dr. Peterson and his team thinks to be a “risk” gene for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). The first step for the project is gathering approximately 150 SLE patient participants and genotyping their DNA (extracted from a small tube of blood they donated for the cause) to determine whether they have the “LypR” variant or the “LypW” variant. We hypothesize that patients with the “LypW” variant (who we call “carriers”) are at higher risk for SLE and that SLE patients with LypW variant PTPN22 have ...

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ayamamoto
Ami Yamamoto
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My “New Normal”

My “New Normal”

As I’m thinking of ideas to blog about, it occurred to me to talk about some of the topics I find myself discussing with friends and family. Most people have heard of lupus but many don’t really know how life-altering it is. I sure didn’t.
 
When I was diagnosed nearly three years ago, I knew very little about lupus. I knew it’s an autoimmune disease meaning that my body is basically attacking itself. I knew of people who got really sick and I’d heard of the fatalities. Beyond that, I didn’t know much more, so I found myself entrenched in research to understand it.

I can recite a lot of facts and statistics, and while that’s good to know, people are curious about what it’s like having lupus on a day-to-day basis and how it impacts my life. My answer to that is: it impacts every single aspect of life – physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, social. Everything. Having lupus informs ...

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chriscronick
Chris Cronick
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Introducing 2013 Lupus Ambassador Chris Cronick

Introducing 2013 Lupus Ambassador Chris Cronick

My name is Chris Cronick and I’m honored to have been chosen as the 2013 Lupus Ambassador for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota (LFM). I’m 37 and I was diagnosed with lupus in 2010. Prior to my diagnosis, I was in and out of the hospital for six months. It was a very scary time, not knowing what was wrong. I was tested for everything, but eventually was diagnosed with lupus SLE.

I have found that many times those of us with lupus tend to have other autoimmune diseases and I am no exception. I also have had rheumatoid arthritis for nearly 15 years and I have celiac disease too, another autoimmune disease in which my body is allergic to wheat and gluten. I plan to delve further into my life-changing journey with lupus in subsequent blog posts.

Having lupus has given me many blessings and curses along the way. One positive result is a renewed respect for my health. ...

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chriscronick
Chris Cronick
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Local lupus study recruiting participants

SLE is an autoimmune disease capable of causing severe tissue damage in many organs. The cause of SLE is unknown, but recent research has identified infection-fighting proteins called interferons (or IFNs) which are made and released by host cells in response to the presence of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites or tumor cells. IFNs allow for communication between cells to trigger the protective defenses of the immune system that eradicate pathogens or tumors.

In this video, Dr. Erik Peterson from the University of Minnesota describes the basis for his new study which will look at how PTPN22 (one lupus risk gene) affects the interferon-producing capacity of lupus patients.

LFM will be speaking live with Dr. Peterson on Tuesday, April 30 at 12 p.m. Join us to learn more about this research opportunity and find out how you can get involved. Register today at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1804589201556293632.

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Human Genome Project Celebrating 10th Anniversary

10yearsThe National Human Genome Research Institute is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Human Genome Project (HGP), which was officially completed on April 14, 2003. Ten years later, researchers continue to discover even more about the human genome.

The publication of its mapping and sequencing promised great insights into human biology, as well as applications for the way life science research is conducted. In the past 10 years researchers have come to understand much more about our DNA code and the genetic basis of human disease, but much more remains to be learned about life’s operating system in order for genomics to be used productively to improve human health.

The National Human Genome Research Institute, which spearheaded the HGP, plans a series of educational activities and events to mark the 10-year anniversary of the project’s completion and to reflect on the HGP’s revolutionary influence on biomedicine. Videos, links to research and more information ...

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Genes are “Interferin’ with lupus family business

Genes are “Interferin’ with lupus family business

It is common knowledge that lupus runs in families. In fact, primary relatives (siblings, parents, children) of a person with the condition have a three- to five-fold increased risk of developing the disease compared with the average person on the street. But until just the last decade, we haven’t known how increased risk of lupus could be inherited.

Figuring out how lupus runs in families has been complicated. Lupus is not like some genetic diseases carrying a high profile in the popular press. The phrase “genetic disease” might bring to mind hemophilia among the royal families of Europe, or the “boy in the bubble” with immune deficiency, or cystic fibrosis. In each of these cases, mutation of one or a few genes is the illness driver.

In contrast, for most cases in which lupus runs in families, alteration in more than one gene is likely behind the increased disease risk. Lupus is thus said to be “polygenic.” In fact, if risk of ...

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Erik Peterson
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“Colonel Mustard did it with the candlestick in the library.”

“Colonel Mustard did it with the candlestick in the library.”

“Colonel Mustard did it with the candlestick in the library.”

One hears statements of this kind while playing the popular board game “Clue.” Players of Clue must travel around an imaginary old mansion while collecting hints. Based on hints, players make educated guesses about the “where, who, and with what weapon” facts of a murder mystery.

Pursuing better treatments and cures for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a little like playing an exceedingly complicated game of Clue. Villainous SLE has done dastardly deeds, reducing quality and quantity of life for many of its victims. Researchers who would bring SLE to justice confront a daunting array of “weapons” (infections, hormones, drugs, lifestyle choices, host immune cells run amok) that could inflict injury within the “mansion” of a patient’s immune system. Like Clue players, researchers must use logic. As in Clue, they must also test proposals (called hypotheses, frequently based on observations in patients) with experiments in the laboratory. They must ...

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Erik Peterson
2

Come hell or high water

Come hell or high water

“I recommend that you take the medication each day, come hell or high water.”

I sometimes use this cliché’ phrase as I counsel patients suffering with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Clinical research shows that diligence and persistence in use of immune system-modulating drugs is important for optimal disease control for many people with SLE. Some drugs need to be taken day in and day out, for months or years, to be most effective. Repeated clinic visits, blood monitoring requirements, pharmacy charges, and side effects all represent “hell and high water” barriers that threaten SLE patients’ good intentions. Months or years get to be a long time during the battle to maintain treatments. As a prescriber who has been around the block a few times, I know that it takes dedication and diligence to adhere to regimens involving multiple medications. Until we have cures, I consider it part of my job to be a cheerleader for long-term use of proven treatments.

This week, ...

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Erik Peterson
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