[Dr. Michael Bereman completed his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees at NC State University. After doing postdoctoral work at the University of Washington, he came back to NC State as an assistant professor and researcher. In 2015, at the age of 33, Dr. Bereman discovered he had Lou Gehrig's Disease. He refocused his research to help doctors provide an earlier diagnosis and more accurate prognosis for future patients, identifying proteins that may be most useful in measuring disease progression or for testing new drugs.]

“I came to know Michael through the Center for Human Health and the Environment, where he leads the proteomics core. For a long time, I did not realize he was sick; he never broke his stride in terms of his science and teaching. When I found out, I was shocked and devastated, but also tremendously inspired by his perseverance and determination to research his own disease. He's already made critical discoveries that may one day help prevent or treat this dread disease.

Michael's expertise is proteomics and [in the picture above] he is sitting next to one of the instruments he uses in his work. At the moment he is using proteomics to compare cerebral spinal fluid from ALS
patients and controls to try and identify novel markers of the disease. These markers are critical for trying to understand the origins of the disease and how it progresses. My own work focuses on how flame retardants might affect the developing brain with a focus on brain areas involved in social interactions and behaviors. So we are both interested in how the environment shapes the brain and behavior.

Michael is not only the person I know with ALS.  One of my Uncles is also living with it. It's hard not to feel helpless in the face of such a ruthless disease.  

I'm an avid runner. I never feel helpless or powerless when I run. So I thought.....I hate that I can't do much to save Michael or my uncle from the ravages of ALS, but I can run. And run with purpose. That's why I am running the Krispy Kreme Challenge for Michael. The Krispy Kreme Challenge is one of my absolute favorite events. I love it because it is pure silly - I mean when else can you run for doughnuts in a costume? I've run with family and friends for many years, including my husband (faculty at NCSU) and son who is now an NC State sophomore. (We have our own little mini "debate" over who has the more "winning" record - I always finish faster but he always eats more doughnuts). So I'm building a team willing to embrace the silly, challenge their "gastrointestinal fortitude," and run one of NC State's signature events in honor of Michael.  

Inspired by how hard Michael and his colleagues are working on the science of his disease, even as he loses his mobility, I wanted to do something to recognize his strength - not just of body but of character, his deep love of NC State, his commitment to his students, and the tremendous impact he has had on the university community. I'm running to embrace the joy, and Michael's tenacity.

For fun, I included a picture from the 2014 race - that's me in the costume. I'm dressed as "road kill." Yes, I ran the whole race in that thing. My son is with me dressed as the blue power ranger. He was a middle schooler back then. The other picture is from 2017. That's me (in a less impressive costume), my son and my husband, Scott Belcher, who is also faculty at NC State.  So running the Krispy Kreme Challenge is truly a family tradition for this NC State family!! Running for Michael is an honor and a joy.”

-- Heather Patisaul

About Dr. Patisaul:

Dr. Heather Patisaul is a professor at NC State University in the Department of Biological Sciences. She received her B.S. in Zoology from the University of Florida and her Ph.D. from Emory University. Her lab explores the mechanisms by which endocrine disrupting compounds alter neuroendocrine pathways in the brain related to sex specific physiology and behavior. Dr. Patisaul is a NIEHS ONES Award recipient and has participated on several national and international expert panels and workshops related to health effects associated with soy and other endocrine disruptors.

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