|FSHD researcher Patrick Reed at work in his lab.|
Every day when Patrick Reed walks into his lab, he thinks of his brothers. Patrick, 41, was a child when Mike and Bill, his elder brothers, were diagnosed with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). “We’re a very close family, so I wanted to help,” he said.
Although science intrigued Patrick in high school, he never imagined a career in research. But a downturn in the construction business forced Patrick, then a young surveyor, out of work.
After trying some college biology and chemistry courses, Patrick found his calling. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he now conducts FSHD research.
In 2007, Patrick was the first to identify a protein altered in FSHD but not in the other muscular dystrophies he tested. The discovery is significant because, if the protein proves to have a major role in the disease process, eventually it may be possible to use drugs to target its activity and lessen the severity of the dystrophy.
Today, Mike, 43, is a computer expert working for the U.S. Senate and Billy, 42, is a police dispatcher. Occasionally they ask whether a cure is in the foreseeable future.
Patrick, who lives in Rockville, Md., says, “The next experiment might be the big breakthrough. You only know you’re getting closer, working toward a cure. It will only come faster with more research, more researchers and research funds. Thank goodness for the generous donors to the Brothers’ FSHD Spurs His Research cause. Without them, science wouldn’t have come this far.”
MDA supports Reed’s current research with a Development Award.