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A cure for Wolfram syndrome could lead to a cure for diabetes and blindness.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A cure for Wolfram syndrome could lead to a cure for diabetes Part 3


I felt that I was at dead end because of a few reasons. I had to keep on defending my "ER stress" theory of Wolfram syndrome and diabetes by myself. I also realized my limitations as an "immigrant" doctor. Although I took exactly the same three-step medical license exams and clinical skills assessment as American doctors, I was not from top notch medical schools in the US, such as Harvard, Yale, Hopkins, Columbia, Stanford, UCSF, and Washington U. When I attended the ceremony for the new members of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, I realized that most of them were from these top notch American med schools. They were well-connected and knew important people in the medical research community. I was not well-connected at all. In addition, my mentor, Dr. Aldo Rossini MD, retired and left the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Massachusetts. He went back to the Diabetes Center at Harvard as a visiting professor. Dr. Rossini was my biggest supporter, believed in my ER stress theory, and always gave me kind advice. I felt that Dr. Rossini was like my father especially because I lost my father at a young age. He was a wonderful physician, scientist, and human being. I was seriously thinking about leaving academic medicine and research, and becoming a doctor in a small town. I planned to close my research lab after my trainees, fellows, and students graduated. I started spending time in hospitals and attending more clinical conferences.

I still believed in my theory that ER dysfunction in beta cells is a key to understand Wolfram syndrome, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. My team was getting results supporting my theory. Around the same time, unexpected things started happening. The first thing was email from a woman in France. Her email struck me. Her name was Nolwen, and she asked me to come to Paris to help her son who had Wolfram syndrome. I exchanged email with her several times and realized that she was really serious. I decided to fly to Paris, and the meeting with her changed my trajectory.