Local scientist Caroline Coffey is taking on a major international research challenge at the University of Reno Nevada School of Medicine, thanks to funding from local charity Struggle Against Muscular Dystrophy.
SAM is a small Northern Irish charity, set up in 2008 following the diagnosis of local child, Sam McCausland (now 8) with a rare form of Congenital Muscular Dystrophy.
The charity’s mission is to raise money to invest in research which will help improve scientific understanding of the disease and enable researchers to move closer to the development of effective treatment.
CMD is a lethal muscle-wasting disease and children who suffer from it exhibit severe and progressive muscle weakness from birth, are usually confined to a wheelchair, require ventilator assistance and often have reduced life expectancy. There are currently no effective treatments.
SAM was set up as a ‘zero cost’ charity, whereby everyone involved gives freely of their time and resources and to date has raised almost £400,000.
Caroline, who graduated top of her year from The Queen’s University of Belfast with First Class Honours in Biomedical Science in 2012, said: “I have chosen to dedicate my scientific career to the further investigation and understanding of these devastating neuromuscular diseases, especially CMD which so cruelly affects the lives of so many children and their families.
“I want to make a significant contribution to this area of research by ideally finding a treatment that will help reduce the suffering induced by this devastating disease and ultimately help improve the quality of the lives of these patients.
“I am extremely grateful to SAM, which is a truly inspirational charity, for providing financial support towards my research.
“It is a great honour and privilege to have the opportunity to be part of this pioneering world-class research.”
Sam’s mum, and founder of the charity Tracy McCausland said: “I dream that one day all of those who suffer from muscular dystrophy will have a real chance of having a brighter future than the one currently predicted for them.
“SAM would like to wish Caroline and the team success in their research and extend sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to fundraising efforts over the past four years.”
For further information visit www.helpsam.info.