Ida Hakkarinen may not have a medical degree, but she has contributed to important research that was recently highlighted in the National Institutes of Health’s Medline magazine.

A longtime member of the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology, Hakkarinen is a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and has been coping with a rare disease since 2012 called granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA for short) that falls under a broad category of vasculitis disease, which is a condition that involves the inflammation of blood vessels.

Two years after her diagnosis she agreed to participate in a research study at the NIH. She told Medline: “Having a rare disease, I wanted to contribute to the research being done in vasculitis through the use of my personal health data. I also hoped that through a clinical trial, I could benefit from having a ‘second opinion’ from a medical professional researching the disease, which might help my treatment.”

The goal of the study, which is ongoing, is to find unique biomarkers for the disease. For the NIH, it has been an opportunity to also update its patient medical record database, which will likely help patients like Hakkarinen in the future. She told Medline that she felt a duty to help educate young medical professionals about her rare disease and the importance of gathering accurate medical histories that can help in diagnosing vasculitis.

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