Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Whittemore Peterson Institute: Building Bridges

 
The Whittemore Peterson Institute: Building Bridges through Private and
Public Sector Collaboration


Annette Whittemore*
*

*
*

The Whittemore Peterson Institute's (WPI) publication of its ground-breaking
study on October 8, 2009, of the link between a cancer-related retrovirus,
XMRV, and patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome
("ME/CFS") brings a desperately needed legitimacy to a complex yet
controversial and misunderstood disease
*(1<http://molinterv.aspetjournals.org/content/10/3/120.long#ref-1>
)*. News of this significant association brought hope to millions around the
world who have suffered in silence from its devastating effects. Perhaps,
just as important, the discovery of XMRV infection in humans allows the
medical world to construct a testable hypothesis of how XMRV may cause or
contribute to illnesses across a wide spectrum of chronic inflammatory
diseases and cancers and new paradigms of treatment and perhaps prevention.


That the discovery happened in just three years of a small research
institute's existence1<http://molinterv.aspetjournals.org/content/10/3/120.long#fn-1>is
almost as amazing as the extraordinary scientific work. This is the
story
of how and why the Whittemore Peterson Institute came to be. It is a story
of multiple collaborations at every level, revealing a blueprint for other
groups of dedicated scientists, doctors, and philanthropists to create
greater progress through unique and selfless partnerships across
nontraditional boundaries. Like other philanthropic endeavors, it began as
an idea evidenced through personal suffering and acted upon after all other
avenues had failed.


The personal decision to commit time and money to build an institute for
patients with neuroimmune diseases came from a desperate need for medical
solutions to a disease that had been destroying our daughter's life for over
twenty years. We were also faced with the reality that experienced
physicians were retiring without passing on their knowledge of ME/CFS to new
physicians (Box
1<http://molinterv.aspetjournals.org/content/10/3/120.long#boxed-text-1>).
In addition, the existing medical establishment lacked both knowledge and
medical tools to effectively treat patients who suffered the debilitating
effects of this neurological
disease2
<http://molinterv.aspetjournals.org/content/10/3/120.long#fn-2>.
Around the world, those who suffer with ME/CFS have been told that their
physical disorder is a manifestation of a psychiatric disease. Subsequently,
these patients may then be denied medical support by their government-run
health care programs.

Full article can be found at:
http://molinterv.aspetjournals.org/content/10/3/120.long

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