August 20, 2007
I am sitting on a curb underneath a lovely shade tree
located in narrow parking lot behind a medical science complex at
the University of NV Reno medical school. My husband Bruce is
scouting the perimeter in hopes of finding someone to ask if this is
the right construction site for the Whittemore Peterson Institute
for Neuroimmune Diseases (WPI).
I look in the distance to see homes on brown hills.
To my left is a mountain, but not as high as Mt Rose, which is close
to Incline Village and Sierra Medical, the location of Dr. Dan
Peterson’s clinic. In front of me, within two car lengths and as
far as I can see is brown red dirt, rocks, and flat gravel roads.
Occasionally a white dump truck drops a load of dirt. What are they
doing? Is this the future home of the Nevada Institute of Molecular
I sense movement behind me. A familiar looking man
comes through the door to the parking lot. Imagine that. I stop him
to confirm that I am in the right spot. SO, YES INDEED…. this is the
institute and off to my right will be the wing housing is the WPI.
The entire building will cost 74 million dollars. (I met Tom Kozel,
chair of immunology, in September of 2006 at a WPI fundraiser.) I
tell him that all eyes are on RENO. Dr. Kozel comments that it is a
massive building project with a projected completion date of 2010.
Just a few months ago, this was a 70 foot ravine lined with bramble
and rocks. He moves on to his car.
I dream weave about filling that enormous hole. It
feels like my long journey with CFS. I think about the hundreds of
thousands of people hoping for a better quality of life through
improved medical care that ultimately comes from better research.
Another white dump truck unloads dirt. How much dirt
does it take to fill 200 yards, by 100 yards, by 70 foot deep? (Huge
and inaccurate guess!) I am in that truck and have been backfilling
for years, trying to create something from nothing. I think…what if
the work they do at the WPI reveals the cause of Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis. YES! They find markers and tests and treatments
that can not only help us feel better and save lives, but get us out
of this time consuming and hostile war with local medical people,
with government groups and among our own. What if?
Leaving my computer bag and water, I walk onto the
dirt and over piles of stone way to the right so I can stand on the
spot where WPI will stand in 3 years. I take pictures, and then
start back. Someone is looking into my bag and I start to wave and
shout, but I am too short and too far away for the man to hear me.
start to run in the 92-degree heat. “HEY” Finally the guy sees me
and yells back, “ I thought someone forgot their stuff.”
I am huffing away and feeling rather faint. I went
farther than I thought and I forgot about the heat and the valuables
I left behind. Once I recover a bit and drink ALL the water left, I
chuckle and pull out the laptop to write the paragraphs above. I am
crying, too; well sniffling… I want people to know how much hope is
riding on the WPI as the number one research facility in the United
States for ME and CFS and the other diseases scientists intend to
Bruce returns. He talked to a construction guy and it
turns out a chain of trucks, left to right, is filling and dumping
dirt to close up the earth where the Institute will be built. He
goes off to take more pictures.
Pictures are at www.wicfs-me.org (See the
Link: Whittemore – Peterson Institute for Neuroimmune Disease)
August 29, 2007
I researched the partnerships and collaborations and
a bit of history about the Medical School in Reno. Five major
buildings form the medical school complex. A major goal of
University President Marvin Glick, PhD (Chemistry – UW Madison) is
to create a larger presence outside Nevada for the research and
training facilities the Reno campus has to offer. Dr. Glick is most
interested in academic training for all fields as he is personally
committed to top notch education for all students, especially those
seeking advanced degrees.
To expand the Reno campus is a huge undertaking.
Construction sites and new facilities dot the campus. It appears
that Nevada is committed to generating vast sums of money to support
programs and increased faculty. In addition, expansion means
building partnerships and collaborations outside of the University.
John A. McDonald, M.D., PhD (Duke University,
Biochemistry – Rice) is Dean of Medical Sciences. Aside from this,
in 2006, Dr. McDonald was appointed to a new Nevada State Commission
on Medical Research and Health Care. Dr. McDonald oversees planning
(Small word – Big job) for the Centre for Molecular Medicine (CMM).
This is collaboration among the Medical School, the
Nevada Cancer Institute, a private non-profit, and the Whittemore
Peterson Foundation, also a private non-profit.
As I learn about this, I think about the numbers of
people working on the CMM, the money, the meetings, the negotiations
and those who work within these entities. I wonder if Dr. McDonald
is aware that thousands of people with ME and CFS and FM and other
Neuroimmune Diseases are watching and waiting for the completion of
the CMM and within it, the Whittemore Peterson Institute?
I feel sure that Dr. McDonald is not aware of the
huge interest among patients and scientists and Medical
Professionals. I imagine he is busy all the time and when he goes
to a planning meeting, a roundtable of key people work through
problems. People understand the Nevada Cancer Institute because all
of us have been hearing about cancers of one kind or another since
we were born. We have cancer centres in our communities. However, do
people understand Neuroimmune Disease? I don’t.
Here is the plan. Would you please write a letter to
Dr. McDonald to thank him for his interest and work on the
Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuroimmune Diseases? Bags of
mail, BAGS of mail tell people that what they are doing is
significant. E-mail does not count because if you are reading this,
you know that you can get 100 E mails a day and when busy, you must
If you are an academic, a scientist or a medical
professional, especially international, your letter would be like a
gold bar in a mailbag. Please think about the possibilities for a
new state of the art research, training and clinical centre in
2010. It’s all good! You know how thankless a job it can be to
attend planning meetings to overcome obstacles and work on endless
details. Please write a letter to Dr. McDonald and if you are also
sick, too, you might mention how important such a centre would have
been before you became too ill to work.
If you have ME or CFS or FM, please, please get a
handwritten letter out to Dr. McDonald. You can give your former
career, how many years sick and just say thanks on behalf of all the
patients you know in your community. Ask your family members to
write, too. I plan to ask my 82-year-old mother to write a letter.
Despite her own failing health, she will do it if I can get the
envelopes, address the envelopes and get the stamps ready.
Bag of mail, 2 bags of mail, How about 3?
John McDonald, MD PhD
University of Nevada School of Medicine
1664 N. Virginia Street (0332)
Reno, Nevada 89557
If you can, please cc the President of the
Milton Glick, PhD
President - University of Nevada
1664 N. Virginia Street (001)
Reno, NV 89557
This is a personal request. I want a lot for us.J)
The plans are made, the building is going up, and
I want the message LOUD and CLEAR.
EYES are on RENO.