By Jessica Chaikof
How many of you went out to see the super moon lunar eclipse that happened this past late September evening? I decided to take a break from studying Organic Chemistry to see the eclipse since it was a rare moment that will not happen again until 2033. That’s nearly eighteen years from now. When I went out to see the moon, I had to take my white cane with me in order to be safe. Regardless of having the white cane, I still nearly tripped on the steps from my dorm because I was not paying attention. I could still see the blood red moon staining the sky due to its brightness. However, I had to go out with my white cane because my night vision is really poor. When 2033 comes around, I hope to have a stable job that I love doing. Not only that, I want to be outside in the dark with full night vision and no white cane. I believe it is one hundred percent possible to cure Usher Syndrome by 2033.
The only way Usher Syndrome can be cured is if there is a cure for each of the thirteen mutations that cause it. I have Usher Syndrome Type 1F, and one of the issues that comes with it is that it gets little attention because we have no good animal model. It is extremely frustrating for me because there is so much research going on for Usher 1B, the most common type 1, but rarely any for 1F. I want to see research for Type 1F.
I am currently a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, and I fully intend on majoring in chemistry. Since my junior or senior year of high school, it has been my dream to be a science major. Back in my sophomore year of high school, I met my chemistry teacher, Mr. Bennett, who literally changed my life. This past summer, I spent six weeks working in my dad’s lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. During the six weeks, I rotated with different researchers on different projects. One week, I got to work with a molecular biologist, who showed me DNA extraction, and I was amazed with the role that chemistry played when it came to genetics. It is really interesting seeing how simple atoms and molecules make-up our genetic code.
The reason why it is possible for me to do this research is because I have my vision. I can make observations and explain what is happening when I perform different experiments in a lab. Recently, I did a Google search on blind scientists, and I found almost no blind chemists or biologists. Therefore, if I lose my vision, there would be no possible way for me to continue what I love doing. The question that I leave you with is, “How would you feel if you were told you were going to go blind and would have to give up something you love?” I do not know my answer to that question because I cannot imagine being blind or giving up the one thing I love doing.