UA Steele Children’s Research Center Investigator in TLC Documentary `Albino Crisis,’ Oct 18, 19
October 15, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. – A national TV documentary on albinism will feature the work of a scientist at the Steele Children’s Research Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Murray Brilliant, PhD, Lindholm Professor of Genetics, UA Department of Pediatrics, and Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will be featured in a TLC (The Learning Channel) documentary on albinism in Tanzania. “Albino Crisis,” part of the TLC series, “My Shocking Story,” will air Sunday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m. (Tucson time), and again on Monday, Oct. 19, at 11 p.m. (Tucson time).
The program documents Dr. Brilliant’s research among the albino population in Tanzania, where those affected by albinism not only are ostracized, but often are murdered for their body parts. A persistent belief exists in that nation that albinos have magical powers. “Witch doctors” sell albino body parts mixed into “magic potions” and sold with the promise that people will become rich. What’s worse, it is believed that the body parts of children are more potent than those of adults and that the parts of young girls are the most potent of all.
“The circumstances of people with albinism in Tanzania are dire. By day, they are subject to extreme sun damage and severe sun burns leading to skin cancer at an early age,” says Dr. Brilliant. “By night, they fear the murderers who come for their body parts. There is no rest for them.”
The University of Arizona, University Physicians Healthcare and University Medical Center work together to care for patients, educate medical students, train resident-physicians and conduct clinical and basic research. The UA Steele Children’s Research Center and UMC are working together to build Diamond Children’s Medical Center (www.diamondchildrens.org), now under construction and scheduled to open in 2010. Diamond Children's will be Arizona’s only pediatric inpatient medical center connected to an academic research facility – the Steele Center (www.steelecenter.arizona.edu).