My symptoms were eventually diagnosed as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks itself. My search online yielded a website that charted survival in vague terms, claiming 90% of lupus patients lived five years post-diagnosis while 75% made it to 10 years and only 65% made it 15 years. For someone in her early 20s, those odds weren't reassuring. I knew as a journalist that information was power and never in my life had I felt so incredibly powerless. So, I set out on a mission to learn as much about lupus as I could. I never dreamed that journey would eventually lead me to medical school.
I was in Mexico when the H1N1 influenza pandemic began to make international news several years ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists and health experts were racing against the clock to develop a vaccine and accelerate its manufacture. They harnessed immense amounts of data and used cutting-edge technology, which is always a great way to get my attention. As a technology evangelist, I'm always investigating intriguing problems with innovative solutions. What other technological developments were going on at CDC, I wondered?