Molloy Division of Education Professor Meets Pope Francis in Rome
A Pilgrimage for Huntington's Disease
Dr. Eve Dieringer, Director of Field Placement and Adjunct Professor for the Division of Education, met Pope Francis on her recent visit to Rome during which she traveled with families of people with Huntington's disease.
"Huntington's disease (HD), an incurable genetic brain disorder, was recognized by a world leader for the first time on May 18 when Pope Francis held a special audience with hundreds of Huntington's disease families and over 30 patient organizations from more than 20 countries. The gathering marks the beginning of a global movement to drive awareness and action, and lift the stigma around the disease," said Jamie Levey, representing the European Huntington's Disease Network.
"I was overwhelmed by the experience. It was life changing to be in the presence of such a holy, humble, sincere man," said Dr. Dieringer on meeting Pope Francis.
"The movement was inspired by the plight of families from South America where prevalence of HD is up to 1,000 times higher than the rest of the world. The "huntingtin" gene was identified nearly 25 years ago in patients living next to Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo. However, despite two decades since the discovery of the gene, HD has no cure, nor are there treatments to slow the progression of the disease," added Levey.