A rare achievement for a rare disease

U-M researchers’ work goes from discovery to drug, for Gaucher disease and perhaps more

James Shayman, M.D., one of two U-M scientists who led the development of the drug eliglustat tartrate, now sold as Cerdelga

James Shayman, M.D., one of two U-M scientists who led the development of the drug eliglustat tartrate, now sold as Cerdelga

It took more than 40 years, and a lot of dedication. But an idea born and nurtured in University of Michigan laboratories is now making a difference in the lives of patients with a rare disease.

For one of the first times, a drug developed first at U-M, and then further by a company, made it through all the steps it takes to reach patients around the world.

And even though the disease it treats only affects about 10,000 people worldwide, it’s become a product that a company can sell and doctors can prescribe to their patients. In this case, it’s patients with the debilitating and potentially fatal rare condition called Gaucher disease.

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Did norovirus just make you sick? U-M researchers are working to understand why

Stool samples now being collected from current and recent sufferers

A microscopic view of norovirus particles. Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

A microscopic view of norovirus particles.
Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

It came on like a thunderbolt, and is still making people sick and miserable across Ann Arbor.

But the norovirus outbreak that put the University of Michigan in the spotlight over the past week may have a silver lining.

Resarchers are working to better understand this virus that sickens tens of millions of Americans each year.

Just last week, a U-M Medical School research team received permission to begin collecting stool samples from people who are experiencing norovirus-like symptoms or just recovered in the past three days.

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Coolest Science Stories of 2015

From bananas to brains, nanotechnology to stem cells, U-M medical researchers made incredible discoveries

Coolest Stories 2Lots of amazing medical care, and testing of new treatments and diagnostic tools, happens every day at our hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, our medical scientists quietly work on the research that could make life better for patients and their care teams tomorrow. In fact, some of those U-M scientists are also U-M doctors who treat patients — so they especially know what needs to improve.

This kind of “basic science”, as it’s called, has to happen in order for health care to move forward.

As 2015 ends, here’s a roundup of some of the most amazing discoveries and developments that came out of our Medical School’s labs this past year.

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Got a disease? Own it – with this unique science art

Beautiful images from U-M medical research labs available at Ann Arbor Art Fairs and online


“Road Not Taken” – a new Bioartography image for 2015 by U-M grad student Justine Pinskey – was made almost by accident, when she noticed the colors and shapes made while she adjusted her microscope to focus on cells she studies.

If you have a chronic disease or a child born with a medical problem, it may sometimes feel like the diagnosis owns you.

But now you can turn the tables and own _it_.

How? By buying unique art that’s made by University of Michigan scientists who study everything from diabetes and cancer to digestive disorders and genetic diseases.

Through a program called BioArtography, they turn images made in their labs and pictures taken through microscopes into artworks that look beautiful on any wall.

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Don’t forget the future: Medical research funding at a crossroads

Detroit Free Press guest column, Nov. 2, 2014

microscope.fwThe contributions of medical research to understanding health and treating disease are a modern miracle.

If our nation hadn’t spent the last decade cutting funding for medical research, might we have an Ebola vaccine by now? Or made breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, developed new approaches to treating heart disease, or made progress against antibiotic-resistant infections?

The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, we will never know what might have been possible.

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Put some science on your wall with these beautiful images available at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

"Branching Out" 2014 - BioArtography

“Branching Out” by Greg Dressler, Ph.D., a professor in the Medical School. It shows the structures of a developing kidney.

This week, the streets of downtown Ann Arbor will fill with art lovers, perusing the wares offered at hundreds of artists’ booths at the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair.

But at one booth down on East University Avenue, the “artists” all have day jobs — as research scientists.

And the images they create aren’t just beautiful. They come from laboratory studies that might save lives.

It’s science art at its finest – and all of it has a University of Michigan connection.

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