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Dear Parents and Friends,
We left assembly this morning with big eyes and full hearts. Bela Tinaj’s mother, Ermelinda Damko, a molecular biophysicist at Cornell Weill, spoke to us about her work in cancer research. We were riveted. We were thrilled. We are inspired.
Ermelinda, originally from Albania, and her team, including women from Italy, Mexico, and China, have found what may be the cure for Kaposi’s Sarcoma, one of the cancers to which AIDS makes one susceptible. It took them three years, which, in cancer research, is something like record time. Merck Pharmaceutical will put it into clinical trials and, possibly as soon as ten to fifteen years from now, it will be available to save lives. Compound 224 – watch for it!
We cheered Ms. Damko several times. It was wonderful to hear her love for her work. She said she “goes to the lab each day to play with proteins.” She described working with protein as akin to working with Legos. She says it’s an adventure to work in a lab because you don’t know where the experiment is going to take you – it’s a continually changing puzzle to solve.
One child asked how she got the idea to do this research. Ms. Damko said she read an article about children in Kenya, one of the African countries ravaged by AIDS, dying of Kaposi’s Sarcoma. She thought, “Let’s try to help.”
This kind of Science is a combination of the head and the heart. Science lives at Alexander Robertson School.