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Downtown Roanoke buildings to light up in recognition of Rare Disease Day

Crystal Graham
VT roanoke wells fargo building
Submitted/Photo by Clayton Metz for Virginia Tech

The Wells Fargo Tower and Berglund Center in downtown Roanoke will be lit up tonight in pink, green, purple and blue in recognition of Rare Disease Day.

The global observance is held annually on the last day of February.

Rare diseases affect about 30 million people in the United States, many of whom are children, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, is a member of the Virginia Department of Health’s Rare Disease Council. The council advises the General Assembly and the Governor on the needs of individuals with rare diseases.

Friedlander said Virginia Tech’s health science researchers want to provide long-term hope by working to better understand the causes and mechanisms of many rare diseases.

“We are taking a global approach, working across disciplines and between partner institutions, coordinating our work with efforts of scientists worldwide,” said Friedlander.

Researchers continue to make progress, but less than 500 rare diseases have Food and Drug Administration approved treatments.

NIH also reports that those with rare conditions experience medical costs three to five times higher than for more common illnesses.

“While each of these diseases are rare, they touch us all in many ways,” said Friedlander. “And by better understanding these less common illness, we can learn more about human health across a broad spectrum of conditions and expand on discoveries and therapies for more common disorders.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.