Nineteen years ago, I was introduced to the world and introduced to a virtually unknown virus that would affect me for the first few years of my life--Cytomegalovirus, or CMV. The virus, which I contracted in utero, impacted my immune system which led me to contract other harmful infections. I was treated at the University of Minnesota Children's hospital where my family worked with CMV and infectious disease professionals such as Dr. Mark Schleiss, who aided my family in the initial CMV diagnosis and what was to come with the disease. After my first two years, and multiple surgeries, I was able to fully recover and live a non CMV affected life.
As I got older, I became interested in medicine, specifically pediatrics. I knew all the work that the University of Minnesota did to help me, and I wanted to learn more about some of the practices that they participated in.
Two years ago, I reached out to Dr. Schleiss and asked him if I could learn more about what he does in his lab in relation to CMV. I wanted to pursue science, specifically in infectious disease and wanted to give back and learn about the institution that had helped me get through such a difficult experience. Dr. Schleiss was more than willing to have me join him in his lab researching CMV and helping children at the hospital.
At the lab, my research was specifically looking at the possibility of using dried umbilical cord stumps for retrospective diagnosis of infants who were asymptomatic at birth but showed symptoms years later. I was able to present this research
at a symposium. Being able to have an impact on children and CMV cases across the world allowed me to truly understand the importance of research such as my own. Advocating for such an important disease is the first step in helping patients across the globe. I look forward to continuing not only infectious disease research, but CMV advocacy for years to come.