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John Porter, PhD is a Program Director at the NIH/NINDS, responsible for managing a portfolio of research grants across neuromuscular disorders. That is his formal introduction, but the other side is that he has long been a friend to me and to our Duchenne community. In January, he announced his intention to retire from NIH. RETIRE? JOHN PORTER? What’s next I wondered? What’s next I wondered? We can’t lose John! We can’t lose one of our biggest champions!

I closed my eyes and remembered a Treat-NMD meeting John and I attended in Budapest some years back. After the meeting, we had some free time. This was the first time either of us had been to Budapest and we decided to take a walking tour.

Budapest is colloquially divided into two major parts corresponding to the two major cities Buda and Pest. The area west of the Danube is Buda, the oldest part of the city which includes the Castle and Matthias church. The Matthias church was built in 1015, in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of Buda’s Castle District. The church has a fascinating history of wars, coronations and finally restoration in the 19th century.

John and I walked and talked about science, progress, opportunity, hope, and faith. We talked about our commitment to Duchenne, to the day when Duchenne has treatments available for every individual diagnosed.

Just after the announcement of his retirement, I sent him a note to inquire about the possibility of working with us, with PPMD, to build upon current programs, to expand the pipeline, accelerate progress and approvals. I asked if he would be willing to co-lead PPMD with me. Over the next months we spoke often, sharing ideas and challenges.

John agreed, the time is right, the stars are aligned. John has agreed to join PPMD. Officially, he joins January 2015.

One of John’s most recent emails to me included:

There’s a great piece in the NYT today…I say that it’s great, if only for one quote that speaks to how anything worthwhile gets accomplished:

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference,” said the children’s rights advocate Marian Wright Edelman, “ignore the small daily differences we can make, which, over time, add up to big differences that we cannot foresee.”

Put another way, the completed ‘house’ comes about only after careful placement of each individual ‘brick.’ It’s all about paying attention to the placement of each ‘brick’ (single effort), no matter how small that placement may seem to be at the time. The 'house' (ultimate goal) then takes care of itself. I think this resonates with the approaches we both take.

And I’m even more thrilled to say out loud …. Welcome John Porter, PhD to PPMD. 

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