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Huntington’s disease hits close to home for 2013 HDSA Donald A. King Summer Research Fellow Jolene Luther, who watched as the disease eventually took over her grandfather William Holcomb’s ability to function and care for himself. Rather than walk away from HD after Holcomb's death in 2011, the University of Iowa senior pre-med/Spanish major decided to contribute to the HD community on behalf of her grandfather, with whom she shared a special bond. That included applying - and being accepted - as an HDSA research fellow.
Click here to read more about Luther’s close bond with her grandfather in the University of Iowa HDSA Center of Excellence’s article “Driven from her heart to research fellowship,” including thoughts from HDSA Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs George Yohrling.
For 10 weeks this summer, Lutheris examining MRI scans of PREDICT-HD participants and looking for iron deposits in the brain. If she finds there are increased levels of iron in the brains of prediagnosed HD participants, she will have helped identify a potential biomarker of HD progression.
Luther’s participation in the HDSA's Summer Research Fellowship could help researchers better understand HD and move one step closer to finding more effective treatments and, hopefully, a cure for the disease. For Luther, her work in HD research takes on extra meaning. She wants to contribute something positive toher HD community and keep her grandfather’s memory alive.