Standing Room Only… Autoimmunity Symposium at Northern Michigan University Draws Substantial Crowds as Nurses, Physicians, Advocates, Students and Patients Gather to Listen to World-Renowned Experts on Autoimmune Diseases and Relapsing Polychondritis

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We are pleased to announce that the Symposium Exploring Autoimmune Diseases, presented by Race for RP and Northern Michigan University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, was an overwhelming success.  Reynolds Recital Hall, where the half day event was held on Friday September 20, was filled to capacity with standing room only for upwards of 300 people in attendance.

Reynolds Recital Hall at NMU was filled to capacity for the Autoimmunity Symposium

We were grateful to have TV6 and Fox UP as sponsors for the event. Dr. Susan Manzi sat down with Andrew LaCombe, their morning news anchor, on Friday morning for a segment promoting the Symposium.  Kohr Motorsports also graciously provided a branded race car supporting autoimmune disease awareness, a show-stopper which received a great deal of attention on the NMU campus and in the homecoming parade which followed.

During the symposium attendees listened intently to keynote speakers and leading experts in the field, Dr. Joseph Ahearn followed by Dr. Susan Manzi, as they explained the causes and factors involved in triggering an overactive response of the immune system, current treatments available for autoimmune disorders, and the importance of offering interdisciplinary care for patients suffering from these chronic diseases.  Their work at the Allegheny Health Network Autoimmunity Institute in advancing the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases has been transformative. And the Institute’s focus on improved outcomes, quality of life, and decreased cost of care, through collaborative multispecialty care, cutting-edge research, advocacy and education is unprecedented and will have a lasting impact on patients struggling with autoimmune conditions.

Dr. Emily Somers Presents a Spotlight on Relapsing Polychondritis

Dr. Emily Somers gave an incredibly detailed and thorough presentation on relapsing polychondritis (RP), exploring the pathophysiology of the immune system response in RP, the identification of etiologies, signs and symptoms of RP as well as a review of current and possible treatments of the disease.  As an autoimmune disease specialist and epidemiologist who has designed and conducted ground-breaking clinical trials for Lupus, her insights were exceedingly impressive and thought provoking.  We were especially encouraged to hear how research in relapsing polychondritis might result in important discoveries for other autoimmune diseases.

Panel Discussion during the Symposium Exploring Autoimmune Diseases

The final session of the symposium was a panel discussion with the keynote speakers as well as panel guest, Mike Duckwall, RN, FNP-BC.  Addressing audience member submissions directly, the holistic question and answer session identified appropriate nursing and medical care for patients with immune disorders focusing on the concerns from patients, nurses and physicians in attendance on the realities of living with autoimmune disorders and the challenges they have faced in diagnosing, understanding and treating these diseases.

Symposium Speakers and Guests with the Kohr Motorsports Race for RP Ford Mustang

Once again, we thank our distinguished keynote speakers, event organizers, volunteers, advocates and partners for helping us advance a broader conversation to transform the diagnosis and care of patients with autoimmune diseases.  We would especially like to acknowledge the Northern Michigan University School of Nursing and Kristi Robinia, PhD, RN, Associate Dean and Director, for partnering with Race for Relapsing Polychondritis and facilitating this inaugural Autoimmunity Symposium.


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