Dana Delany only played the part of a patient dying of scleroderma. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the connective tissue. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body is attacked by its own immune system. In this case the result is formation of scar tissue or fibrosis, in the skin and internally in the body's organs. The involved areas get thick and firm, so clearly when it involves the internal organs, it can become a life threatening disease. It's cause is unknown though researchers believe that the presence of particular genes and certain environmental issues may contribute. Scleroderma can affect people of any age, thugh it seems to especially hit women of child-bearing years.
Delany was so affected by the patient role she played and by what she learned about this disease and its statistics (300,000 people are affected), that she decided to join a movement that was formed to fight the disease and to find a cure. In 1999 she joined the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation , a non-profit corporation in San Francisco, California. Dana Delany's good friend the founder died in 2002, and she was introduced to the new chairman Luke Evnin, a venture capitalist with a PhD in microbiology and a patient with scleroderma.
Some people with scleroderma have a stabilized form of the disease and are able to lead incredibly full and rich lives, like Evnin. In addition to his professional role as general partner in a multi-billion dollar biotechnical and life sciences venture capital firm, he oversees 10 scleroderma research programs. Researchers all over the world are working on a cure, thanks to his efforts, the foundation and a high profile celebrity like Delany.
Published On: October 27, 2008