Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is the leading genetic cause of infantile death and the leading genetic killer of children under the age of two. As an associate professor in MU’s Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Christian Lorson has dedicated his life’s research to the study of this devastating disease in hopes of someday developing therapies to replace the diseased gene with a ‘healthy” one.
Lorson and his team often work closely with children diagnosed with SMA and their families. He says this interaction allows his team the opportunity to really “own the project” and “understand how you can directly impact the science and somebody’s life.” He describes a recent trip to Roland Park, Kansas, where the lab team participated in such activities as wheelchair races with the children.
In addition to conducting research on SMA, Lorson also works with a non-profit organization called Fight SMA. “It’s a patient advocacy group…designed not only to raise awareness but also raise funds for research,” Lorson says, explaining the difference between federal or state funding and non-profit funding.