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Posted on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

C.S. Mott hospital doctor receives grant to study disease he had as a teen

By Amy Biolchini

Lying in a hospital bed at the University of Michigan Health System after receiving a bone marrow transplant for at the age of 19, then-college student Andrew Harris was focused on survival.

As the newly-transplanted cells turned against him and began attacking his body, Harris, who was battling acute myeloid leukemia, decided that if he could make it through treatment, he was going to find a way to keep more children from going through the pain he went through.

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Standing next to southeast Michigan Hyundai dealers, Dr. Andrew Harris (in the white lab coat) holds a $250,000 check he received for his research from Hyundai's Hope on Wheels program Thursday at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Amy Biolchini | AnnArbor.com

Fourteen years later, Harris is now a doctor at the same hospital that saved his life. He's working with patients sick with the same graft versus host disease that developed after his transplant — and just four years into his employment at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, he's secured his first grant to further important research.

Thursday afternoon at the hospital in Ann Arbor, Harris was presented with a check for $250,000 from the Hyundai Hope on Wheels program by a crowd of southeast Michigan auto dealers.

Harris studies graft versus host disease in children who have had bone marrow transplants. The funding will help Harris find ways to detect the disease earlier and predict which children would be more likely to get the disease.

Brian O’Malley, general manager of the Hyundai central region, presented Harris with the check.

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C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Dr. Andrew Harris paints the hand of 23-year-old Daniel Lee, a University of Michigan student who had to pause his studies for leukemia treatment. Lee placed his hand print on a vehicle from the Hyundai Hope on Wheels program, which gave money to Harris' research.

Amy Biolchini | AnnArbor.com

The grant was one of 41 $250,000 grants doled out by Hyundai Hope on Wheels in its competitive program during the month of September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Since the start of the program in 1998, the program has given $57 million to childhood cancer research.

The funding is important because only 3 percent of funds from the National Institutes of Health go to childhood cancer research, O’Malley said.

“It’s important for both Hyundai as a corporation and our dealers to give something,” O’Malley said.

A portion from the sale of each car at a Hyundai dealership goes to the Hope on Wheels Program.

After the presentation of the cardboard check, some of the auto dealers in the room painted the hands of some young cancer patients at C.S. Mott before the children placed their hand prints on a special Hope on Wheels Hyundai SUV.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, amybiolchini@annarbor.com or on Twitter.

Comments

Suzanne

Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Thank you Hyundai! Hope on Wheels sounds like an awesome project!

OLDTIMER3

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

I might have to change my mind about Hyundai.

Kai Petainen

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

what a cool.. .cool... story

jns131

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

Very touching, I agree.

Bertha Venation

Thu, Sep 13, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Good cars.... .Good people.

jns131

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

How come an American car company did not volunteer an American car. Kind of sad to see our big 3 not coming forward on this one.