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 Medicine?
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 dreamweave 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. I
start to run in the 92-degree heat. “HEY” Finally
the guy sees me and yells back, “ I thought someone forgot
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 study.
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.
the Edge: The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuroimmune Diseases
August 29, 2007
By Pat Fero
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 topnotch education for all students, especially those seeking
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 Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM).
This is a 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 centers 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 discard 75.
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 center 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 center 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 University:
Milton Glick, PhD
President - University of Nevada
1664 N. Virginia Street (001)
Reno, NV 89557This is a personal request. I want a
lot for us.?) The plans are made, the building is going up, and
I want the message LOUD and CLEAR. EYES are on RENO.