Ever feel like the dimmest bulb in the chandelier? Well, try sitting in the back row of an auditorium filled with world-renowned medical physicians and researchers (seriously, when it comes brainpower the MDA brought the thunder to their 2012 Clinical Conference). Not to say that I’m not a smart guy, but these people like to unwind by deciphering triplicate genetic code. (Where were these geniuses when I needed a biology tutor in college?)
Throughout the day, I heard about all kinds of neat and interesting findings regarding the latest and greatest efforts to fight neuromuscular diseases at the genetic level. I learned the ABCs of genetics, everything I ever wanted to know about gene mutations, and what’s all the rage regarding gene therapies (exciting stuff, right?). I also learned about cardiac disorders (which is of personal relevance to me) and pulmonary therapies (also of personal importance to me).
While the information presented was impressive (downright amazing really), I was actually struck more by something I learned today outside of the realm of research. I learned it as, one by one, presenters got up and delivered their remarks with something I did not expect: passion, enthusiasm and an outright dedication to the overall cause of eradicating diseases like muscular dystrophy. Put simple, these brainiacs take the business of saving lives very personally. Outstanding!
Before today, the images I most often associated with MDA’s researchers were limited to lab coats, beakers and microscopes. After today, additional images come to mind: committed, emotionally invested and caring individuals who have dedicated their immense talents and capabilities to serving millions of people like me.
To win any major conflict (make no mistake about it, conquering neuromuscular disease is a very real fight), the winner must bring more to the table than superior firepower (or brainpower as is the case here). Indeed, history tells us that to be victorious on the field of battle you must win hearts and minds. In my wheelchair-bound world, that means having researchers who possess the intellectual capacity to tackle neuromuscular disease AND the emotional capacity to be intrinsically vested on behalf of the lives they hope to impact.
To that end, the MDA is proving both in word and deed (aka funding) that it’s in it to win it. And that’s something we can (and should) all understand.