By Theresa Coetzer, PhD, University of the Witwatersrand, Wits Medical School, Johannesburg, South Africa
a participant in the ASH Visitor Training Program (VTP), Dr. Galina Myasnikova
recently found herself far from her home in the Chuvash
Republic, an autonomous region in Russia, and the home of Chuvash polycythemia, an
autosomal recessive disorder endemic to the mid-Volga River region of Russia. Dr.
Myasnikova spent eight weeks at the Howard University Sickle Cell Center
in Washington, DC, studying under the mentorship of Dr.
ASH created the VTP in 2004 to address the issue of “brain
drain” in developing countries by building hematology capacity through
short-term training. VTP participants study a particular topic or technique
under the mentorship of an ASH member anywhere in the world. After participants
complete their training, they return to their home institutions to implement
the training and share newfound knowledge with colleagues.
Prior to participating in the VTP, Dr. Myasnikova had
collaborated with Dr. Gordeuk on Chuvash
polycythemia. However, she needed training through the VTP to perform
polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on the Chuvash
polycythemia VHL mutation. Dr. Myasnikova also received training on
enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests of the products of candidate
genes, such as endothelin-1 and VEGF, which she suspected were influencing the
development of pulmonary hypertension in Chuvash
polycythemia. Once she learned these techniques, she was able to interpret them
in the context of echocardiographic estimates of hypertension. In order to
better understand the history of phlebotomy therapy, which has traditionally
been used in patients with Chuvash
polycythemia, Dr. Myasnikova studied
how to determine serum concentrations of iron, total iron-binding capacity
(TIBC), and ferritin and erythropoietin levels in the serum.
Participants in the VTP stay in contact with both their
host institutions and ASH prior to their experience. This enriches the program
and establishes a base for its evaluation. Now that she has returned to The
Chuvash Republic Clinical Hospital, Dr. Myasnikova is working with her
colleagues to establish VHL gene mutation genotyping in her clinic. “All
possible contact between scientists and doctors from different countries is
very useful for both sides,” she commented. “Based on my studies [in the VTP],
we came to the conclusion that the phlebotomy procedure for Chuvash
polycythemia patients doesn’t benefit them. We are adjusting now to this new
Applications for the
2010 VTP will be available on the ASH Web site in mid-January. To learn more
about the VTP, visit the ASH booth, #129.
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