Pioneering Care for Rare Diseases

Vaughn and Nancy Bryson stand with Dr. Joseph MuenzerLongtime Carolina donors Vaughn ’60 and Nancy ’60 Bryson have increased their commitment to $10 million to fund a new concentrated research and treatment program for mucopolysaccharidoses in the UNC School of Medicine’s pediatrics department.

This leading-edge program will honor Dr. Joseph Muenzer, one of the world’s foremost experts in congenital metabolic disorders and the Bryson Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics. The Brysons’ gift will create the Dr. Joseph Muenzer MPS Research & Treatment Center and extend an initial investment of $2.5 million that was made in December 2021.

MPS are a group of ultra-rare genetic disorders. Individuals with MPS are missing a specific enzyme involved in the breakdown/recycling of glycosaminoglycans, which are long chains of sugar carbohydrates found within cells that help build bone, cartilage, tendons, corneas, skin and connective tissue.

If these glycosaminoglycans are not broken down then they collect in cells, blood and connective tissues. The result is permanent, progressive cellular damage that affects appearance, physical abilities, organs and cognitive abilities and leads to a shortened life span.

The Muenzer MPS Center will provide new strategies into comprehensive care and work to identify innovative new therapeutic approaches to treating MPS.

“Creating this center for MPS has been a dream of mine for the last 10 to 15 years,” said Muenzer. “This gift from the Bryson family will allow us to expand our care and treatment of children with MPS and offer the specialized care needed for this ultra-rare group of diseases.”

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