While many people have never heard of an eosinophil, most people do know what a white blood cell is and have some understanding of its disease and infection-fighting role in the human body.
While these strange-sounding cells play an incredibly important part of the immune system by helping to fight off certain infections, when eosinophils occur in higher than normal numbers in the body without a known cause, a rare eosinophilic disorder may be present.
Typically, eosinophils make up less than five percent of circulating white blood cells in healthy individuals and can vary over time, but when the body wants to attack a substance, , eosinophils respond by moving into the area and releasing a variety of toxins. When the body produces too many eosinophils, they can cause chronic inflammation, resulting in tissue damage within the body.
Emory cardiologist Wendy Book serves as president of the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED), one of the organizations within the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). Book recently accepted the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award on behalf of APFED. The award, named for NORDâ€™s founding president, is presented each year to a NORD Member Organization for demonstrating outstanding leadership and representation of its members.
â€œI am honored to be part of a collaborative effort among patients, families, physicians, researchers, policy makers and others to develop diagnostics and therapeutics for rare diseases,â€ says Dr. Book. â€œWe are grateful to work with NORD and other member organizations to provide a voice for those living with rare, and often poorly understood, diseases.â€
The awards were presented at the annual NORD Partners in Progress Celebration.Â Each year, NORDâ€”a nonprofit organization that represents the 30 million Americans with rare diseasesâ€”celebrates pioneering achievements of individuals, organizations, and companies in public policy, patient advocacy, medical research, and product development.