KCU Dean Highlights Duchene Muscular Dystophy (DMD) Research Through Art

Sep 18, 2017
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Dr. Robert White, dean of the KCU College of Biosciences

The annual Science to Art exhibit and dinner sponsored by Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) and the Kemper Museum of Art is always exciting.

For Dr. Robert White, dean of the College of Biosciences and researcher for KCU, this year’s exhibition is special.

White’s photo, a cross section of a heart set against a starry background, was selected and will be displayed along with work from other scientists and researchers throughout the area.

The honor not only underscores the unique relationship between art and science, it also offers an opportunity for Dr. White to honor his late son.

The heart photo is part of Dr. White and his students’ research on Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It’s a reminder of his son Brian who died suddenly in 2006.

“Although my Brian did not die from DMD, we did lose him from heart failure,” said Dr. White. “So this work brings me to think of Brian. He would be 34 years old if he had not passed away.”

Dr. White says the study is important since almost all patients with DMD develop heart disease. “If our therapeutic idea is going to work, we must establish that we can prevent not only severe skeletal muscle disease, but also cardiac muscle disease,” he emphasized. “That is part of DMD.”

Dr. White and his team are testing to see if they were successful in preventing cardiomyopathy in a model of DMD. Dr. White’s research team has developed an innovative approach of expressing an eye protein in muscle to replace the protein missing in the muscles of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. “So far,” he says, “so good.”

White is grateful to KCALSI for the opportunity to discuss his work in the hopes of moving closer to finding a cure for DMD, as well as to dedicate the work to his son Brian.

The art displayed in the exhibition will be available through a silent auction held at the 2017 KCALSI Annual Dinner at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland on Sept. 19. Proceeds will benefit STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) education in the community.

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