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When a Clinical Researcher’s Work Hits Close to Home

Photo: Courtesy of Silverscape Photography, Jeri Burr

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a nurse. During the 17 years I worked at the bedside, I never imagined having a career in clinical research. However, for the past 20 years I have been able to publish about and participate in important cutting edge research for children.

A personal impact

I have four very sweet grandchildren whose lives have all been affected by what I do. My 5-year-old grandson has the rare disorder, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). There is no cure for this rare autoimmune disease characterized by eosinophils attacking the esophagus. As a board member on the university’s IRB, I have participated in the review and approval of multiple studies that are looking for a cure or new therapies for EoE.

I am grateful I have the clinical research knowledge to participate in reviews of the latest research that could benefit my grandson in the future. My second two-year-old grandson was hospitalized at the children’s hospital with RSV bronchiolitis. He was very ill, placed on high flow oxygen and treated based on the most recent RSV/bronchiolitis protocols. I felt a great deal of personal satisfaction when I observed the nurses caring for him using a bronchiolitis scoring tool I helped develop many years earlier.

Making a difference

My beautiful six-month old granddaughter is a miracle. She would not be here today if her dad, my son, had not survived a NICU admission at birth for aspiration pneumonia. Thanks to life-saving medications, approved in clinical trials, he was able to survive respiratory failure as an infant, grow up and be a parent himself. 

All of my children were required to get Tdap vaccines when expecting my grandchildren. The work on critical pertussis that I have contributed to is expected to be of benefit to U.S. children as well as the 500,000 children who still die annually of critical pertussis in the global community. 

When I reflect on my work in clinical research, I am glad in some small way to have contributed to the health, welfare and treatment of my own family and future generations.

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