Molly’s drive to start this foundation came directly from a lifetime of advocacy for her son Christopher. Now in his twenties, Chris Towe, has been plagued with an autoimmune disease of unknown origin, his entire life. Molly never gave up on her quest to get some answers to the cause of her son’s life threatening lung disease. Finally, Dr. Anthony Shum, MD, UCSF Assistance Professor of Medicine was treating a patient in his ER in California and realized his patient had distant relatives suffering from similar life threatening symptoms. He started to piece together the puzzle of a mysterious illness that not only plagued Molly’s son, but other families as well. This lead him to identify five other families who were also suffering from the same mysterious illness. It was through his diligence and push for genome sequencing of the members of those families that gave Molly the first breakthrough for her son in his lifetime. Dr. Shum discovered the disease was related to a mutation in the COPA protein gene and his findings were first published in April 2015 online edition of Nature Genetics. Molly finally had a name to put with her son’s disease, COPA SYNDROME, and now she has a starting place for research and a potential for the development of treatment for others suffering from COPA. Molly is very grateful to Dr. Shum, because without him Chris might have never discovered the origin of his Interstitial Lung Disease.
Molly brings her wealth of knowledge and experience to the foundation she has started. She will use that to reach out and assist families coping with a COPA Diagnosis, as well as a passion to move research forward to benefit her son, and others. Intensive research is needed and the Foundation will strive to fund this effort.