URI researcher seeks clues to rare disease that killed 2-year-old best man

story by:  Todd McLeish

Dr. Niall Howlett

Dr. Niall Howlett

When 2-year-old Logan Stevenson served as best man at his parents’ wedding just days before he died of a rare genetic disorder, it drew international attention to a disease about which few people had ever heard. Hearing about Logan’s story added another level of urgency to the research being conducted by University of Rhode Island Associate Professor Niall Howlett.

Logan died from complications of Fanconi anemia, a rare hereditary disorder characterized by physical defects, bone marrow failure, and increased susceptibility to cancer. About 1 in 200,000 children in the United States are born with the disease, and treatment options are extremely limited. Howlett has been studying Fanconi anemia for 15 years, ever since he became interested in how cells recognize and repair DNA damage.

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