Turkel Center offers novel approaches to autoimmune diseases
With a generous gift from The Samara Jan Turkel Foundation, Children's Hospital Boston recently established the country's first clinical center for autoimmune diseases in children. The Samara Jan Turkel Clinical Center for Pediatric Autoimmune Diseases fosters a unique collaboration between Children's experts in immunology and rheumatology, and their colleagues in organ-based disciplines and other specialties.
The center's expert, multidisciplinary care and novel treatment strategies offer new hope to families of children who suffer from autoimmune problems that are often difficult to diagnose. Autoimmune diseases are disorders in which the immune system reacts against the body and produces antibodies to attack its own healthy cells and tissue. The center aims to raise awareness, both in the medical community and among the general public about autoimmune diseases. It has established a dedicated toll-free phone line, outreach brochures and valuable information for parents on the Web.
According to Robert Sundel, MD, clinical director of the new center and of Children's Rheumatology Program, the remarkable thing about the center is its big-picture view of immunological disorders. "The center brings clinical and research specialists together to get past an organ-based approach and focus on the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders." The goal, says Sundel, "is to change the paradigm around these diseases by addressing their biological underpinnings."
Sherry and Scott Turkel, along with Sherry's parents, Judith and Arthur Bach, created The Samara Jan Turkel Foundation after losing their daughter to an undiagnosed, undetected autoimmune disease that eventually proved to be a rare disorder causing vasculitis, a heart-damaging inflammation of the blood vessels.
For six years, The Samara Jan Turkel Foundation has raised money through an annual black-tie gala. The Turkels made their gift to Children's after consulting with Sundel and Raif Geha, MD, chief of the Division of Immunology. "Our experience at Children's was phenomenal," says Sherry. "Dr. Sundel and Dr. Geha were professional and capable, but also accessible and warm. We knew Children's reputation as the best in the country, and we felt we had a perfect fit for the clinic we wanted to establish in Samara's name."
For more information about autoimmune diseases or to schedule an appointment or consultation, contact The Samara Jan Turkel Clinical Center at (888) 244-5318 or visit www.childrenshospital.org/turkel.