The message on the cell phone was, “I hope you packed your long johns, the temperature last night was 23 below zero.” It was February, and we were in Minnesota, a long way in miles and temperature from Florida! The caller was Paul Olinski, and we were on our way to visit him and Khemissa Bejaoui, who live near Marshfield. Khemissa, many of you will recall, was the researcher at the Day Lab who independently identified the genetic defect that causes HSN-1. She took a personal interest in the family and memorized the names and relationships of the members of the family!
In 2003 she left the post-doctoral position through which she did work on another myopathy and then HSN-1 at the Day Lab. She now has her own lab at the Marshfield Clinic. We spent a weekend at their home, set on several acres outside of town. The large “living” room is the original homesteader house, with fireplace, high ceiling, cozy seating, and table and chairs. Out the back window we could easily see the dozen or so deer who came to raid the corn crib, and the flock of wild turkeys who came right to the back door,
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Khemissa Bejaoui, Ph.D., will leave the Day Neuromuscular Laboratory this June. She has been associated with the Lab for almost 13 years, since coming from Tunisia to complete her post-doctoral studies. For a decade she has worked tirelessly on the Deater Disease project.
Dr. Bejaoui has been deeply committed to her research, spending long hours “on the bench” and in researching historical reports and the latest developments in genetics. She has developed strong collaborative working relationships with other researchers in varied fields from around the world. She is well respected for her expertise, and she has continually increased her knowledge in areas related to her primary research. She is absolutely scrupulous in her work ethic, practicing good science and validating results.
The Deater Foundation has been honored to support Dr. Bejaoui with modest grants over the years. She, in turn, has been innovative in seeking other funding. She has taken the initiative to seek out other researchers from whom she can learn, and who can offer other insights from parallel or tangential studies. Her ability to explain very technical information in a clear and concise way has successfully informed the Deater Foundation Board and family over the years. Her kind
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