Did I make the right career choice? Can we afford our children's college education? Yes, we all have questions that keep us up at night. And for physician-researchers, these questions may even inspire how they conduct their life's work, work that can have lasting implications on our understanding of diseases and how they are treated.
With that in mind, Discover Rush asked three physician-researchers at Rush what kinds of sleep-depriving questions drive their research.
"Osteoarthritis is one of the most common diseases in the world, and yet we have very little at our disposal to treat it and really nothing to prevent its progression," says Najia Shakoor, MD. "So I ask myself ‘What can I do in my work to prevent progression of this debilitating and all-too-common disease?' That's why I study biomechanics: I want to know how body movements and forces acting on our musculoskeletal system impact the progression of osteoarthritis. Maybe if I look at altering biomechanical forces on the joints, I can play a role in altering the course of this disease."
Ovarian Cancer Research
"The survival rates for early stage ovarian cancer are good," says Jacob Rotmensch, MD. "The problem is, we don't have an effective tool to detect this cancer in its early stages; women often come to us when the disease is more advanced and harder to treat effectively. Why, I often wonder, has progress been so slow in understanding the causes of this disease and ways to detect it? Why don't we pool the talents of people from different disciplines to tackle this? While I can't speak for others, I do know a collaborative approach has certainly been useful in my research."
Parkinson's Disease Research
"I work with Parkinson's disease patients every day, and I wonder how and where it all begins," says Deborah Hall, MD, PhD. "What are the genetic underpinnings of Parkinson's disease? What is the genetic fingerprint that leads or increases susceptibility to this disease? Can we turn off the genes that are involved in the development of the disease? Or turn on genes to save the dopamine cells that can ultimately lead us to a cure?"
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