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PCOM Final U.S. Stop for Transcontinental ‘Great Road Trip’

May 31, 2022

Kennedy’s Disease Association’s (KDA) Citroen 2CV sits infront of PCOM Philadelphia campusThrough wildfires, desert heat, mechanical failures and, of course, potholes, the “Great Road Trip” had traversed nearly 4,300 miles across the U.S. and Canada by the time it reached Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) — with 2,300 miles still to go.

Marking the final stop on the North American leg of their tour, the Kennedy’s Disease Association’s (KDA) “Great Road Trip” visited PCOM on May 18 to draw awareness to this rare genetic disease. Traveling in a refurbished 35-year-old, 29-horsepower Citroen 2CV, the journey began in Los Angeles in April and will end in Rome, Italy, in July. The crew of two drivers and a support vehicle will cover a total distance of nearly 6,600 miles. The Citroen 2CV, affectionately known as the ”Tin Snail,” was manufactured from 1948 to 1990 and is a cult car in Europe.

PCOM faculty, staff and students pose with the KDA's Citroen 2CVKennedy’s Disease, or spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), is a genetic neuromuscular disease most often diagnosed in adult males between the ages of 30 and 50. An estimated 1 in 40,000 individuals worldwide has Kennedy's Disease. Several leading researchers in the region, including PCOM Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology Heather Montie, PhD, Diane Merry, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University, and Lauren Elman, MD, Penn Medicine, continue to conduct extensive studies on Kennedy’s Disease, its causes and possible treatments. The Great Road Trip is being conducted by KDA and Kennedy's Disease UK (KD-UK).

”KD is a tough journey for those affected (patients, carriers, and families), and I hope this Citroen journey gives them all more hope for future treatments and a feeling of support from their communities,” said Dr. Montie. “This pit stop at PCOM has inspired our researchers and students in training to appreciate the critical impact of medical research on patients and families. It is an honor to be part of this team.”

Dr. Montie was joined at the event by Dr. Merry, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Jefferson and a senior member of KDA's Scientific Advisory Board, with both highlighting the legacy of KDA research in Philadelphia and sharing their connections to the disease and the need for more awareness. The genetic mutation for Kennedy’s Disease was discovered in Philadelphia in 1991, making it a fitting location to end this leg of the tour.

”We were delighted to end the North American segment of The Great Road Trip in Philadelphia and are grateful to PCOM for hosting the event and helping raise awareness of Kennedy’s Disease,” said Terry Thompson, president of the Kennedy’s Disease Association. “Philadelphia continues to be an important hub in the global network of KD research. We wish all researchers worldwide success in developing effective treatments and a cure for this devastating disease.“

Following the event, the crew made their way to the port of Baltimore, where the car will be loaded onto a ship and sent back to the UK before beginning the next leg of the journey.

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    Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit or call 215-871-6100.

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