On the kind of cool, grey, drizzly day that marks fall on the West Coast, Jeff Carroll is putting together his new research lab at Western Washington University. In a lot of ways, the 34 year old has it made: an impressive list of scientific publications, a job offer that has brought him back home to friends and family and a reputation as an up-and-coming researcher with a knack for communicating complex topics. Ironically, he owes it all to a small DNA stutter, a few extra CAG repeats passed on from his grandmother to his mother, and now on to him.
As a 20-something, Jeff was bright but lacked direction. After dropping out of high school, he spent a few years in the army and was dabbling in a few community-college philosophy courses when his mother was diagnosed with Huntington disease (HD).With little information then available about the disease, Jeff signed up for a biology class to get a better grasp on what was happening to his mom. One thing led to another. He completed a PhD with world-renown HD researcher Dr. Michael Hayden and recently wrapped up a post doc at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-founder of HDBuzz, a website covering Huntington’s research that attracts more than 70,000 visits a month, and he is a highly soughtafter speaker who regularly earns standing ovations at Huntington’s conferences.
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