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Foundation gives grants, awaits cure

A half-dozen scientific researchers were picked Friday as recipients of foundation grants worth more than $1-million to home in on a fatal genetic disorder.

The scientists, awarded two-year grants totaling up to $250,000 from the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, hope to isolate the gene that causes Niemann-Pick Disease Type C.

Parseghian is a former Notre Dame football coach who has three grandchildren diagnosed with the rare, incurable disorder. The disease affects the body's ability to metabolize cholesterol.

In Tucson, Parseghian's daughter-in-law, Cindy Parseghian, said the scientists chosen will not be notified and named publicly for a week, until budget issues are settled. All are university-affiliated.

The scientists hope to isolate the gene responsible for Niemann-Pick and develop a treatment and cure. The foundation's goal is to isolate the gene within 18 months.

Three of Cindy and Dr. Michael Parseghian's four children _ Michael, Marcia and Christa _ have been diagnosed with the disease.

Their eldest son, Ara, is not afflicted.

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