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Fulfilling the Promise of Research
CHORI Center for Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia Scientist Receives Competitive NIH Predoctoral Award

James Riddel, RN, MS, is a pediatric nurse practitioner in the hospital arm of Children's Hospital Research Center Oakland (CHRCO), and an investigator in CHORI's Center for Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia. Currently pursuing his doctoral degree through the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Mr. Riddel has received the prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein Award through the National Institutes of Health to conduct his research on von Willebrand Disease (VWD), type 1. Upwards of 4.5 million Americans suffer from the disease, which can vary in severity from simple chronic nose bleeding to gastrointestinal hemorrhage and dysfunctional uterine bleeding.

Designed to foster the budding careers of new scientists on whom the future of research depends, the award will provide funding for Mr. Riddel's final two years of doctoral research, which will study patients from CHRCO, UCSF, Stanford and Children's Hospital of Orange County.

"The goal of the study is to hopefully find a set of genetic markers that may identify disease levels and help with the diagnosis of von Willebrand Disease type 1," explains Mr. Riddel

Currently, the diagnosis of VWD type I, is based on a combination of assays measuring von Willebrand factor levels and assessing von Willebrand factor function.

"Not one test alone suffices to make a diagnosis," says Mr. Riddel, "and the tests are also subject to a lot of variability, in part because of the affects of blood group antigens, estrogen and even stress."

As a result, it is often recommended that the laboratory evaluation be performed on at least two different occasions, and in spite of this, considerable variability can still occur. Being able to test patients for a discrete set of genetic markers would eliminate the guess-work of diagnosis, as well as provide a more timely intervention without requiring patients to undergo multiple rounds evaluations.

With typically only 40 percent or fewer applicants receiving grants, the Ruth L. Kirschstein Award provides a shining finish for Mr. Riddel's doctoral work, which holds great promise, not only for patients suffering from VWD type 1, but for the next generation of research.

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Monday, May 16, 2011 11:33 PM

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