Tag Archives: advocacy

Episode 40: Totally Super Cool!



In a special bonus episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein learns about a new children’s book called Totally Super Cool, which was developed by Nobelpharma America, LLC.

This Podcast is being sponsored by Nobelpharma America LLC. The opinions expressed are those of the speakers individually based on their experience and do not reflect the policies or positions of Nobelpharma. The following content is for informational purposes only. The book being discussed is fictional and may not reflect the experiences of an actual TSC patient. Individual symptoms, treatment, and experiences related to TSC may vary.

The story follows a day in the life of two kids, Tori and Tommy, who have TSC and facial angiofibroma. The sister-brother duo share experiences familiar to kids with TSC, including answering questions about facial angiofibroma and visiting different healthcare specialists. What makes this story unique is how the narration accompanies their day, which finds fun words for the acronym TSC.​ In the end, Tori and Tommy see how their family and friends care for them and want them to Take Special Care. Totally Super Cool aspires to show children with TSC that their accomplishments are what make them special and unique.

To learn more about the book and the process to develop it, Dan talks to Doug Loock, VP Head of Commercial Operations at Nobelpharma America, LLC and Jonathan Goldstein, a former future leader for the TSC Alliance who participated in a panel during the development of the book (01:21).

For more information on how to get a copy of Totally Super Cool, email NPA-corporate-info@Nobelpharma-US.com. Learn more about Nobelpharma America at https://www.nobelpharma-us.com/.


Episode 39: Inspiring a World TSC Community



In a special two-part episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recaps the 2022 World TSC Conference, which was held in Dallas, Texas July 28-31, 2022. In part two, Dan explores the history of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) conferences and speaks to inspiring leaders who have shaped the TSC Alliance’s past and will continue to shape it’s future.

On Saturday, July 30, 2022, during the Blue Night Dinner at the 2022 World TSC Conference, Dr. Michael and Janie Frost were presented the TSC Champion Award. Michael and Janie Frost have both devoted their careers and lives to helping individuals and their families affected by TSC.

Dr. Frost is a board-certified child neurologist and epileptologist.  He was a founding team member of Minnesota Epilepsy Group in 1991 and established the Upper Midwest TSC Clinic Without Walls after meeting Dr. John Hulbert at a TSC Alliance research conference in 2002. During his tenure as Co-Director of the TSC Clinic, he served as an investigator on several pivotal clinical trials including Afinitor, which led to its approval for treating SEGAs in 2010; Epidiolex that led to its approval in 2020; and the current PREVeNT Trial, the first preventative clinical trial for epilepsy in the United States.  In 2006, Minnesota Epilepsy Group was one of two pilot sites for the TSC Natural History Database.  Additionally, Dr. Frost served on the Clinical Consensus Group in 1998 to help establish the original TSC Clinical Consensus Guidelines and continued this role through two additional revisions with a special expertise in comprehensive and coordinated care.  Dr. Frost continues to provide his guidance as a member of the TSC Alliance Professional Advisory Board.

Janie Frost is a trained epilepsy nurse. She served as a member of the TSC Alliance Board of Directors from 2006-2011 and as Secretary in 2009.  With her expertise in clinical care, she helped organize the 1999 (Washington, DC) and 2001 (San Diego) National Family Conferences and Chaired the National and World TSC Conferences in 2006 (Chicago), 2014 (Washington, DC) and 2018 (Dallas).  These conferences are among the most prolific gatherings of the global TSC community and were successful because of her outstanding leadership and dedication.  Janie also generously served on the planning committee for the Minnesota-based Sound Bites events as well as the 35th, 40th and 45th TSC Alliance anniversary galas.

Prior to Blue Night Dan caught up with the Frosts (01:42). They talked about how family conferences have changed since the 1980s, what makes the TSC community and TSC Alliance unique in our ability to advance research and inspire others to join our cause, how they first got involved in TSC research, and what advice they would give to new parents at the start of their TSC journey.

Then, Dan catches up with Preston Fitzgerald (23:23). Preston served as a Future Leader during the 2021-2022 school year and in that role he and his cohort organized webinars and provided support to other young adults with TSC. Preston was attending the World TSC Conference for the first time and shares how strange it is meeting people in person after several years of virtual interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, what his plans are now that he has graduated from college magna cum laude, and what advice he gives to other young adults living with TSC.

This podcast is sponsored by:


Episode 38: Galvanizing a World TSC Community



In a special two-part episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recaps the 2022 World TSC Conference, which was held in Dallas, Texas July 28-31, 2022. In part one Dan talks to two inspiring and visionary leaders in the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) community.

On Thursday, July 28, during the opening of the 2022 World TSC Conference in Dallas, the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation announced a new collaboration with the TSC Alliance, working together to uncover biomarkers, test new treatments and connect researchers with families to better address TSC-associated neuropsychiatric disorders (TAND), which impact nearly everyone living with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The $2.5 million foundational gift is the largest single donation in the TSC Alliance’s history.

Dan first chats with Anita Bhatia, Executive Director of the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, who announced the transformational investment to the TSC community at the conference (02:25). They discuss what it was like to announce the partnership in Dallas, what motivates her family’s generosity and how she hopes this investment will accelerate research on TSC-associated neuropsychiatric disorders (TAND) to develop new treatments and educate physicians and individuals affected by TSC so they can be better advocate for high quality care.

This new funding will create “Anya’s Accelerator,” which will focus on furthering TAND translational research. TAND includes a wide range of cognitive, behavioral and psychiatric challenges linked to the disease’s effect on brain function. The three-year “Anya’s Accelerator” research program will focus on three major goals:

  1. Developing quantifiable patient-reported outcomes for the most impactful aspects of TAND utilizing the combined expertise of individuals and families living with TSC and clinical researchers;
  2. Identifying biomarkers and predictors of specific aspects of TAND through collaborative and inclusive analysis of existing samples and data; and
  3. Improving the translatability of and testing candidate drugs in TAND-relevant animal models by incorporating biomarkers or predictors relevant to those identified in humans.

Next, Dan catches up with Pete Crino, MD, PhD, Chair of the TSC Alliance Board of Directors and the Clinic Director at the TSC Center of Excellence at the University of Maryland Medical Center (21:11). They talk about how conferences like the World TSC Conference are conduits for both the community to form new connections and get more involved in the organization, but also for researchers and clinicians to foster new collaborations and explore new avenues of research. Dr. Crino also shares why the TSC community is a vital partner in advancing TSC research and how with the support of the community and a dedicated corps of researchers and clinicians, and the infrastructure developed by the TSC community to support research, a cure for TSC is within reach.

If you weren’t able to join us in Dallas at the World TSC Conference, conference session recordings will be made available on our YouTube channel in early 2023.

Resources and Links

This podcast is sponsored by:


Episode 30: Infantile Spasms Awareness Week 2021



In Episode 30 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein kicks of Infantile Spams Awareness Week 2021, an initiative from the Infantile Spasms Action Network (ISAN) that runs December 1-7. ISAN is a collaboration of 32 national and international entities, including the TSC Alliance, focused on raising awareness for infantile spasms, a devastating type of seizure that usually begins in children who are less than one year old and can lead to developmental delay.

This year in addition to raising awareness of IS to parents and caregivers, ISAN is redoubling our efforts to educate frontline physicians, including pediatricians and ER doctors, who might be the first person confronted with an IS case and who are key to elevating those cases to the appropriate specialists to ensure a quick diagnosis and start of treatment.

To better understand the challenges physicians may face when trying to diagnose IS and how ISAN might reach physicians with our messaging, Dan chats with Dr. John Mytinger (01:31), a pediatric neurologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Neurology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He shares why IS can be tough to diagnose, what the seizures look like, and how professors, doctors and advocates all play a role in educating medical professionals. He also discusses what parents should do if they suspect their child is having infantile spasms.

Throughout the week the TSC Alliance and other ISAN members will be posting about Infantile Spasms on our social media channels. Join the conversation and help spread awareness with #ISAW2021.

If you or someone you know suspects their child is having infantile spasms, remember the mnemonic STOP IS.
[S]ee the signs
[T]ake a video
[O]btain a diagnosis
[P]rioritize treatment

Time is brain. The faster a child is diagnosed and treated for infantile spasms, the less the potential for long-term neurological effects. Learn more about Infantile Spasms Awareness Week (Dec. 1–7) at www.infantilespasms.org.

Links and Resources


Episode 29: The TSC Navigator



In Episode 29 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein highlights TSC Navigator, an easy-to-use, interactive online tool to help guide individuals and families through the complexities of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) across the lifespan, proactively manage their care and live their fullest lives. TSC Navigator was launched in October 2021 and includes sections on “Beginning Your Journey,” “Stories of Hope,” “Medical Challenges,” “Support Navigators” and “Resources.”  Users can access information based on the age of one’s TSC diagnosis, such as prenatal, childhood or adult, to help determine which steps will help empower them throughout their individual journeys. You can learn more about the TSC Navigator at tscalliance.org/tscnavigator.

First, Dan talks to Ashley Pounders (02:06), MSN, FNP-C, TSC Alliance Director of Medical Affairs who led the development of TSC Navigator. She shares who all was involved in developing content and designing the layout of the TSC Navigator (including medical experts, corporate partners and the TSC community), how her experience as a former healthcare professional shaped what information she wanted to include in the tool, and how the tool works independently and in tandem with the TSC Alliance website. She also describes the many challenges TSC individuals and families face along their journey and how the TSC navigator provides templates and resources caretakers and individuals with TSC can take with them when meeting with their doctors and advocating for care.

Next, Dan talks to Dana Holinka (16:18), Chair of the Outreach Committee on the TSC Alliance Board of Directors, longtime volunteer and parent to an adult with TSC. Dana shares where the idea for creating the navigator came from, what her experience was like receiving a TSC diagnosis without access to the resources we have today, and the challenges she faced that the navigator helps new families prepare for. She also offers her advice to parents who are receiving a new TSC diagnosis and coming to the website and TSC navigator tool for the first time.

The development of the TSC Navigator would not been possible without our generous sponsors:

North Star Sponsors

       

Compass Sponsor

Cardinal Sponsor

Directional Sponsors

          


Episode 27: Going Back to School and Caring for the Caregiver



In Episode 27 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein learns how parents can prepare for the start of a new school year despite the ongoing pandemic. Dan also talks to a licensed professional counselor to get advice on how parents and caregivers can cope with the stress, anxiety and trauma the last year and a half has caused, so that they are looking out for their own well-being in addition to supporting their loved ones with TSC.

First, Dan talked to Lilian Ansari, TSC Alliance Community Programs Resource Advisor (01:13). She gives helpful advice and tips on making decisions about in-person schooling, ensuring that Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) make up for lost learning that may have occurred while students were at home, and how parents can most effectively communicate with their IEP team. Lilian also shares the resources and support available from the TSC Alliance to help parents effectively advocate for their kids in their school system.

You can access all of our School resources here. If you have general school-related questions you can call Shelly Meitzler, Community Program Manager East, at (800) 225-6872 or email her at smeitzler@tscalliance.org.

Then, Dan talks to Latrice Hamilton, a licensed professional counselor at Journey to New Beginnings. With many TSC caregivers feeling the stress and anxiety of the ongoing pandemic in addition to sending kids back to school, Latrice offers some helpful advice on how to manage stress, communicate effectively with loved ones, and ask for help so that parents can make sure they are taking care of their own mental well-being in addition to caring for their loved ones with TSC.

All of the TSC Alliance’s COVID-19 resources can be found at www.tscalliance.org/covid-19. If you need immediate support from the TSC Alliance you can call our emergency hotline 9 am – 9 pm Eastern: (240) 463-7250.

Resources and Links

 


Episode 26: The Road to Newborn Screening in TSC



In Episode 26 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein takes a deep dive into one of the newer and exciting frontiers in TSC research: Newborn Screening. Last Fall, the TSC Alliance hosted an Innovation Workshop that brought together TSC researchers, newborn screening experts and other nonprofits with experience advocating for other diseases to be included in the newborn screening panel to start to set the road map forward. From that meeting the TSC Alliance put a call out to our community for dried blood spots from infants with TSC in certain states to help eventually validate an assay and earlier this month we put out a call for proposals to fund research to start developing that assay. To understand where we need to go and what will be necessary to get tuberous sclerosis complex added to the recommended uniform screening panel (RUSP), Dan spoke to two people who helped organize the Innovation Workshop.

First, Dan spoke to Hope Northrup, MD (01:42), Director of the Division of Medical Genetics, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and TSC Clinic Director at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Drawing from an impressive career in both TSC and newborn screening, Hope provides a history of newborn screening both in general and in the United States, what they key tenets are to determining whether a disease should be included on the RUSP, and ultimately what the clinical and research benefits are to having TSC included.

Next, Dan spoke to TSC Alliance Chief Scientific Officer Steve Roberds, PhD (23:31), to better understand how newborn screening fits into the larger research efforts of the organization, what steps we have taken to date to move this process forward, and what potential hypotheses we are hoping to test through new research funding. Steve also shares what the timeline and next steps are for both researchers and advocates once an effective and sensitive assay is in place.

The TS Alliance is Seeking Historical Dried Blood Spots and Cord Blood from Individuals with TSC for Newborn Screening Assay Development. Was your child with TSC born in Michigan, New York, Texas, or California? The TSC Alliance is actively seeking access to newborn dried blood spots and stored cord blood from babies born after 1985. If you are interested in donating samples that are potentially stored in your state to the TSC Alliance, please email biosample@tscalliance.org.

The TSC Alliance also recently announced a new funding opportunity for Newborn Screening (NBS) Assay Development. If you are a researcher interested in learning more about this opportunity and submitting a letter of intent you can learn more at www.tscalliance.org/grants. The deadline to submit an LOI is Monday, August 23.

Resources and Links


Episode 25: Lymphangioleiomyomatosis & Worldwide LAM Awareness Month (#WWLAM)



In Episode 25 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recognizes Worldwide LAM Awareness Month (#WWLAM) by focusing on lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung disease affecting women that is characterized by an abnormal growth of smooth muscle cells, especially in the lungs, lymphatic system and kidneys. LAM is caused by mutations in the same gene(s) as TSC and is a common manifestation for women with TSC but can also occur sporadically with no other TSC manifestations. To help raise awareness of LAM on the last day of Worldwide LAM Awareness Day, this episode will focus exclusively on LAM, research being done to develop new treatments and ultimately a cure, and the organization that is leading the charge to improve the lives of women with LAM in the US.

First, Dan talks to Sue Sherman, MHA, Chief Executive Officer of The LAM Foundation (02:18). The LAM Foundation was founded in 1995 by a mother of a woman with LAM with a mission to urgently seeks safe and effective treatments, and ultimately a cure, for lymphangioleiomyomatosis through advocacy and the funding of promising research. They are dedicated to serving the scientific, medical and patient communities by offering information, resources and a worldwide network of hope and support. They discuss how The LAM Foundation has changed over the years, how their investment in research has helped pave the way for breakthroughs, how the organization pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are raising awareness of LAM during Worldwide LAM Awareness month.

Next, Dan talks to Hilaire Lam, PhD (14:22), Research Associate in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. The ultimate goal of Dr. Lam’s research is to leverage mTORC1-driven mitochondrial alterations to uncover therapeutic targets for TSC and LAM. She shares more about the aims of her research, how she first became interested in LAM, what gaps exist in our understanding of LAM and how researchers are currently looking to address those outstanding questions to develop new therapies. She also discusses how she is motivated by women living with LAM and how their relentlessness inspires her to help find a cure.

Earlier this month in recognition of Worldwide LAM Awareness Month, the TSC Alliance hosted an e-webinar titled “LAM in TSC: Surveillance, Treatment and Research” presented by Souheil Y. El-Chemaly, MD, Clinical Director of the Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The webinar covered surveillance, management and treatment recommendations based on the latest consensus guidelines, clinical trials currently taking place and a look to the future of research in LAM. A recording of the presentation will be available on our e-webinars website soon at tscalliance.org/e-webinars.

Resources and Links

             


Episode 20: The 2021 Virtual March on Capitol Hill



In the first episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein dives deep on the upcoming Virtual March on Capitol Hill taking place March 1-5, 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the TS Alliance has decided to protect our volunteers by holding the march virtually. The March on Capitol Hill is the TS Alliance’s annual effort to advocate for continued funding for the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP) a subset of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense. Through these efforts $97 million has been allocated for the TSCRP since 2001 and last year our advocates successfully advocated for an increase in the annual appropriation to $8 million. If you are interested in volunteering please send an email to grc@tsalliance.org.

First, Dan spoke with Chip Burkhalter (02:13), a parent and TS Alliance Board Member, who came to the March on Capitol Hill for the first time last year. He shares how he first got involved, and why he believes getting connected and volunteering is so important after getting a TSC diagnosis. They also discuss how the TS Alliance advocates have been able to garner bipartisan support for TSCRP funding even in the most partisan environments.

Next, Dan talks to Kaushal Asrani, MBBS, PhD (16:09), a Research Associate in the Department of Pathology, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He talks about his research to understand whether lysosomal biogenesis is a potential driver of tumorigenesis and therapeutic target in tuberous sclerosis, from which initial results will be published later this year. They also discuss how TSCRP funding has been pivotal to his work and how connecting with families at last year’s event provides motivation to continue to discover new therapies.

Finally, Dan catches up with Sara Chieffo (25:30), a parent, TS Alliance Board Member and Chair of the Government Relations Committee. She shares what motivated her to get involved in government advocacy, how our volunteers can be effective virtually this year, and why you should get involved too.

Resources and Links
Learn about the TS Alliance’s Government Advocacy Program: https://www.tsalliance.org/engage/government-advocacy/
Learn more about the TSCRP: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/default
Read an abstract of Dr. Asrani’s TSCRP-funded project:https://cdmrp.army.mil/search.aspx?LOG_NO=TS180078
Meet Dr. Asrani’s Team at Johns Hopkins: http://labs.pathology.jhu.edu/lotan/our-team/
Learn about what goes into our advocacy efforts by enrolling in TSC Academy, the TS Alliance’s e-learning platform: www.tscacademy.org


Episode 11: A #March4TSCresearch Recap & Update on COVID-19



In episode 11 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recaps our annual March on Capitol Hill, which took place on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC and brought together more than 100 volunteers from across the country to advocate for continued funding for the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP) at the Department of Defense. He then shares resources the TS Alliance has created to address the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

First, Dan talks to Mark Vieth (2:04), Senior Vice President at Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates, who serves as a consultant for the TS Alliance’s advocacy efforts and helps prepare our volunteers for their meetings with their representatives. They discuss what goes on at the Training Dinner before March on Capitol Hill, what key messages volunteers should bring to their meetings, and why this effort has been so successful over the years.

Next, Dan interviews Bridget Britt (10:54), an advocate and mom from California. She shares why she advocates and how coming to March on Capitol Hill gives her strength and purpose.

Dan then talks to Sam Barth (15:42), a graduate student working in Kim Raab-Graham’s lab at Wake Forest University Medical School. Sam shares how the March on Capitol Hill provides meaningful context for the work he does in the lab and also discusses how the funding his mentor Kim received through the TSCRP helped generate new insights on TSC.

Dan then shares resources the TS Alliance has developed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (25:44), including a FAQ guide for parents and caregivers, resources for TSC medical professionals, and a schedule of upcoming webinars, virtual Town Halls and Open Forums. All of these resources can be found at tsalliance.org/COVID-19.

Finally, Dan continues his Get to Know the TS Alliance segment by talking to Justin Martucci (28:40), Development Services Manager at the TS Alliance. They talk about how Justin has spearheaded the TS Alliance database cleanup and transition to new platforms, what he does when he’s not in the office, and how he is managing working from home during the pandemic.

In the April episode of TSC Now, Dan will be diving deeper into how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the TSC community and he wants to hear from you! Leave a voicemail at (240) 638-4644 with your first name, where you are calling from and how the pandemic has affected you, and your call may be played on the April episode!

March on Capitol Hill Resources:
For more information on the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP), visit: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/default
To read about Dr. Kim Raab-Graham’s research funded by the TSCRP, visit: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/research_highlights/17graham_highlight
For more information on the TS Alliance’s Government Advocacy Program, visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/engage/government-advocacy/
If you are interested in participating in our government advocacy program, send us an email to grc@tsalliance.org.

COVID-19 Resources:
For all of the TS Alliance’s resources on COVID-19, visit: tsalliance.org/COVID-19
To download a FAQ guide for parents and caregivers, visit: http://www.tsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-FAQ.pdf
For resources for TSC medical professionals, go to: https://www.tsalliance.org/covid-19-resources-for-tsc-medical-professionals/
To see a schedule and register for our upcoming webinars, visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/upcoming-covid-19-and-tsc-webinars-and-virtual-town-halls/
To find recordings of previous webinars, visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/covid-19-webinar-and-virtual-town-hall-recordings/