The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.
These Young Investigators will pursue rare disease research in one of five different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.
To learn more about the Young Investigator Draft and to purchase tickets click here
Researcher: Dr. Elizabeth Harrington
Category: Rare Muscular and Neurological Disorders
Education: Dr. Harrington attended the University of Redlands, where she spent four years as a student-athlete on the varsity women’s soccer team and graduated with a degree in Biology and Communicative Disorders. Interested in the field of medicine, she accepted an Intramural Research Training Award at the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C., where she worked in a clinical genetics research laboratory focused on rare inborn errors of metabolism. Ellie received her master’s degree in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Research: Dr. Harrington’s clinical research efforts have led to the launch the “ALS Families Project”, which helps individuals with a family history of ALS determine their risk of developing the disease, and provides education and counseling to help manage and mitigate risk. The ALS Families Project focuses on studying clinical data and biospecimen samples from those unaffected individuals who carry an ALS gene mutation, to better understand the earliest signs of symptoms of disease and ultimately, help in the development of experimental treatments to prevent the onset of disease in specific familial forms of ALS.
In Their Words: “Most medical practitioners in my field … there is a huge amount of sadness with the people we come across. And that’s hard, but you can’t focus on that. You have to think about the overall goal of trying to stop this from happening. What undercuts the sadness is seeing a better future. It’s really holding onto the idea that the work today can make for a better future.” – Dr. Elizabeth Harrington
Ellie Harrington is the genetic counselor at the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. She primarily provides genetic counseling for individuals affected with ALS to help them and their families understand the potential genetic contribution to disease, make decisions around genetic testing, and discuss the medical and psychological implications of genetic results.
Dr. Harrington was always interested in science growing up, and as an athlete who played a wide variety of sports she always figured going to medical school and becoming a doctor involved with athletics seemed like the natural choice.
It was her time at the NIH in Washington DC that ultimately gave Ellie the clarity in terms of a passion for her career choice.
Working in the lab under a clinical and research genetics counselor gave her the insight of being able to help others while still fulfilling her desire to be involved in science and research.
“I knew for a while I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, not sure what it was. When I went to NIH and research I was trying to learn if medical school was going to be for me,” Dr. Harrington said. “As a clinical researcher I was working in a lab that was studying a rare metabolic neurological disease and worked closely under a clinical and research genetic counselor.
“It was my experience with those families that made me realize I wanted to work more with patients and families. That patient interaction and psychology, coupled with my scientific background of medicine focused in genetics, I knew being a genetics counselor was perfect for me.”