Joan's Story

Joan Finnegan Brooks lives with cystic fibrosis (CF), managing the disease by taking more than six different aerosols and 50 pills a day. She champions stem cell research through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which supports efforts to develop sustainable, effective treatments and discover a cure.

Joan Finnegan Brooks

“When my brother and I were children, there were very few treatments available to us. We struggled to breathe and my parents pounded our backs to help us get the thick, sticky mucus out of our lungs. They always encouraged us to lead ‘normal’ lives, and not dwell on our health challenges. Sadly, we lost my brother when he was just 15 in 1969.

“Medicine has come so far since then. Improved treatments and my involvement in sports have helped me maintain my lung function, but at age 59, managing my disease has gotten more difficult. I experience recurring lung infections requiring treatment with multiple antibiotics more frequently and I worry about how long those drugs will keep working. There are many young people whose lives will be cut short by this disease, and I want to do everything I can to help them.

“I support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s commitment to fund innovative research in pursuit of new and effective CF therapies, including stem cell biology in laboratories across the world, including many in HSCI. It is my hope that these scientists will be able to translate discoveries and insights into vital new treatments and clinical care practices for people living with CF.”

HSCI faculty member Jayaraj Rajagopal, M.D.

“We’ve known for a long time which specific gene causes cystic fibrosis when it gets mutated. But it wasn’t until last year that my colleagues and I were able to identify where in the lungs this gene gets expressed. That was possible because of advances in sequencing technology and cell biology, and because we had the support of the Foundation.

“Joan stressed that we need to find both a cure for very young patients, and effective treatments for mature patients.

“We have seen so much progress toward understanding the disease and finding new treatments, but there is still a long way to go.”