Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Autoimmune Disease Patient Panel*

As those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook may have seen, I recently had the opportunity to go to San Diego and share my experiences as an RA patient with 350 immunology researchers. I was part of a small panel of patients, which also included Howard Chang, who shared his experiences living with psoriasis, and Brooke Abbott, who shared her experiences living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The panel was hosted by Matt Iseman, who also lives with RA and recently won $100,000 for the Arthritis Foundation (as well as spreading much-needed awareness!) on The New Celebrity Apprentice. 

The purpose of the panel was to give the immunology researchers a view into the lives of patients their research supports. We shared what it is like to live with autoimmune illnesses - both how it affects our daily lives and our future hopes and dreams. We talked about what we thought were key unmet needs for patients today and what we would like to see, as patients, when it comes to the future of research and the development of treatments. 

I'm sure working in a lab day in and day out can be challenging, so it was really great to be able to open a window for the researchers into the lives of the patients they impact every day. When scientists are working on developing a treatment, I think it is important for them to remember that there are real people, with real lives and real hopes and dreams, awaiting the outcome. Likewise, it was really great for me to have a chance to see and meet so many wonderful and dedicated scientists who are working to develop treatments for autoimmune diseases - and maybe even ways to prevent them from happening! The scientists are real people too, with real lives and real hopes and dreams, and I was glad for the reminder that we are all on the same team fighting autoimmune disease. I look forward to seeing what they come up with going forward.

*Janssen paid my travel expenses and provided compensation. All opinions shared are my own. 

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