Physician scientist seeks the genetic source of familial neuromuscular diseases
In graduate school, Stanley Iyadurai pursued genetics, passionate about the idea of new discoveries and the dream of a Nobel Prize. But when his roommate struggled with depression, Stanley stepped in and encouraged him to get treatment, ultimately thwarting a planned suicide attempt. In the weeks after, Stanley's grateful roommate told him, "You're a good scientist, but you could also be a great doctor." The experience changed him. He completed his PhD – and went on to med school, a non-traditional choice that required another decade of training.
Today Dr. Iyadurai is a physician-scientist at Ohio State's Neurological Institute. "I focus on finding the genetic roots of familial neuromuscular diseases. Some neuromuscular diseases, such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, trace back to known genetic mutations, but others clearly run in families, without an identified cause. Afflicted patients face important questions. How will their disease progress as they age? And if they choose to have children, will they be affected? I am focused on answering these questions."
In one case, six generations of a family had struggled with a disorder that caused both hearing loss and neuropathy. While doctors had been trying for 27 years, none one could figure out the root cause. But Dr. Iyadurai found the issue: a specific defect in a single protein. Just in the last year, Dr. Iyadurai and his team have solved more than a dozen of these types of medical mysteries.