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Med students to host 3rd Cooper’s Carnival

Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) students will host Cooper’s Carnival on Sept. 17 from 1-5 p.m. at Harrogate City Park (150 TN63, Harrogate, TN 37752). Hosted by LMU-DCOM Pediatrics Club and Physicians and Students Serving Appalachia Gaining Education (PASSAGE), the event is a fundraiser to raise money for the Christianson Syndrome Association as well as raise awareness of this rare disorder. LMU is honored to welcome Dr. Eric Morrow, a Brown University faculty member and one of the leading researchers on Christianson Syndrome to speak to attendees at 4 p.m. at the Harrogate City Park.

Morrow received his Ph.D. in genetics and neurodevelopment at Harvard University and his M.D. degree from the Health Science Training Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. During his medical training, Morrow developed a strong interest in the scientific challenges posed by childhood neuropsychiatric disorders. He conducted further clinical and scientific training in neurology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Morrow was Massachusetts General Hospital Rappaport Neuroscience Scholar and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School prior to his position at Brown University. His research focuses on normal molecular mechanisms of brain development, and genetic perturbations that underlie disorders of human cognitive development. In January 2017, Brown was honored with the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Cooper, the boy for whom the carnival is named for, lives in Harrogate. He is the only child diagnosed with Christianson Syndrome within Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. His mother, Heather Jackson, reached out to LMU-DCOM students two years ago for help in raising awareness for the disorder.

“Cooper’s Carnival is now in its third year, and I have been completely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm I have found from these students,” said Jackson. “It is incredibly humbling that they want to help.”

Christianson Syndrome is a very rare genetic condition that primarily affects the nervous system and becomes apparent in infancy. The features of Christianson Syndrome include delayed development, an inability to speak, problems with balance and coordination and difficulty learning to walk and stand. Most affected children have recurrent seizures that begin around age 1 or 2. Children with Christianson Syndrome have a happy demeanor with frequent smiling and spontaneous laughter.

Jackson is a director for the Christianson Syndrome Association and says the disorder may not be as rare as it seems. When asked how rare the syndrome is, Jackson said, “I think there are many boys out there like Cooper who are undiagnosed. When we began this fundraiser we knew of around 50 cases worldwide, and as of right now, we know that number is around 100. This is why raising awareness is so important. Thirty percent of special needs children have an undiagnosed genetic syndrome, and a portion of that percentage is certainly going to be Christianson Syndrome.”

Cooper’s Carnival will feature food, games, face painting, a bouncy house and several activities for kids. The entrance fee is $5 per person or $10 per family. To pre-register to attend the event or to make a donation visit: http://dcomalumni.lmunet.edu/cooperscarnival2017. For more information about Christianson Syndrome visit www.CSA-CARES.org.

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