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The HD spotlight on… Dr Therese Alting

Dr Therese Alting, PhD

Huntington’s NSW ACT board Secretary

Q.) How did you get involved in the HD world?

A.) I had my first real experience of HD in 1993 when as a newly qualified  neuropsychologist I worked in the HD predictive testing program at Lidcombe Hospital. not long after that I saw a documentary on TV about Nancy Wexler and the team finding the gene through the help of the Venezuelan families. It was very moving.

Q.) Why did you become a HNSW & ACT board member?

A.) The Association had gone through a difficult time, and I wanted to go beyond my part-time role in HD research to support families in NSW another way. My kids had grown up enough for me to volunteer some spare time, and it’s been a great experience (though note-taking at meetings is not my strong point).

Q.) What excites you about HD research?

A.) Like everybody, the idea that we might be close to slowing the progression of this terrible disease. scientists  around  the world are approaching treatment in so many different ways. I love that  some HD researchers are at risk or from HD  families, a symbol of the close connections between the two. At the end of our Enroll visits, as the blood sample is shipped off overseas, i think of it as another tiny piece in solving the HD jigsaw.

Q.) What has been your favourite HD moment?

A.) Sorry I’m going to be like a politician here and not answer the question, but a related one. The best thing will be when we have successful treatments for HD that people all over the world can access. But already there have been improvements. People used to engage in victim-blaming, forcing families to keep terrible secrets. So my favourite moment is really an era, from the 1970s, when people started to emerge from decades of social isolation and stigma to bring HD out into the open, advocate for their needs and support each other.

Q.)What makes you laugh?

A.) Our stupid dogs. British comedies, like Black Books. Often my own idiocy (might as well be the first one). US politics (sorry did you say laugh or  cry). Socialising with friends and family.

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