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entific evidence that diet can affect the disease,” she says. “That’s still one area that needs to be studied quite extensively.” Sometimes requiring 10-hour days, Sharma’s job involves re-


search, data management, designing experiments, analyzing data, and managing components of the consortium. She says she is committed to studying Crohn’s and colitis because she wants to help those living with these painful digestive mal- adies. In researching disease onset and how the disease pro- gresses in each patient, Sharma and fellow re- searchers examine the genetic factors that in- fluence its activation, severity, and response to


“I’VE HAD TO LEARN ON THE JOB. IT’S BEEN CHALLENGING, BUT IT’S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT KEEPS THE JOB INTERESTING.”


various medicines in different individuals. The long-term goal is to develop better therapies and improve quality of life for IBD patients.


As many as 1.4 million Americans suffer from IBD, so “it’s a pretty prevalent disease,” Sharma says. “It’s debilitating, it really affects people’s way of life, and it strikes all ages. Learning more about this disease is worth investing a lot of money in.” The devoted researcher also has a 5-year-old son to care for, so she says she tries not to bring her work home. But, she admits, “I always have my e-mail open just in case.” —Nancy Rabinowitz ’85


“Some sort of healing”


SOCIOLOGY MAJOR JOELLE SKLAAR ’11 was studying in Prague in 2009 when she decided to travel to Trstená, Slovakia, to delve into family histo- ry. When she first announced her plans, her mother and grandmother were concerned. Her grandmother had narrowly escaped the Holocaust, and “there was a lot of fear surrounding ‘going back.’” It was the 70th anniversary of the Kindertransportthat had saved nearly 10,000 children, predominantly Jews, from Nazi-occupied terri - tory by transporting them to the United Kingdom. Sklaar’s maternal grandmother and two great-aunts were among that group and, like most, were never reunited with their parents. Sklaar’s mother, born and raised in England, later moved to the United States, while her grandmother still lives in London. Sklaar says, “I


wanted to visit the vil- lage where she’d had to leave her parents, her home, her friends. I was seeking the an-


swers to questions left unanswered for many years.” Holocaust surviv - ors, like her grandmother, often didn’t like to talk about their experiences of war, and their children, like her mother, grew up angry at the circum- stances that had devastated their parents. “But the third generation, like me, has the opportunity to look at the situation more objectively,” she ex- plains, “and work to achieve some sort of healing.” With scant firsthand information, Sklaar began her research on the In- ternet, made phone calls, sent e-mails. She eventually made contact with volunteers who had gathered resources, which they shared with her as she made her way to Trstená. Sklaar was alternately mesmerized, am- bivalent, and filled with dread. What would the truth look like? Would the emotional landscape be desolate? How would she be received by a com- munity that had expelled her relatives?


What Sklaar found was welcome curiosity and personal generosity. The elderly people of Trstená shared memories, while schoolteachers shared research projects on the town’s prewar Jewish community. Stu- dents toured her around the area and listened to what she had to tell them, through a translator, about her family’s story. She walked the streets where her grandmother had played, visited her synagogue (now retail space), and stood in front of her childhood home, now abandoned. “It is very peculiar to be told about your family by total strangers, and even more so to come to the realization that the concentration camps did not kill memories,” she says. “While I previously felt that my ancestors were exclusively my own to remember and revere, I now un- derstand that I am not alone. In their hometown, my ancestors are re- membered still.” —Helen S. Edelman ’74


YASHODA SHARMA ’95 HELPS MANAGE A BUSY RESEARCH CONSOR- TIUM SEEKING BETTER TREATMENTS FOR PREVALENT AND PAINFUL DIGESTIVE DISORDERS.


WINTER 2012 SCOPE 25


CHARLIE SAMUELS


BRIANNE BOWEN


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