UNC RESEARCHER SPOTLIGHT
Written by the NC TraCS Institute. Posted in Join the Conquest.
WHY SHE CHOSE TO GO INTO MEDICINE
When she was 5 or 6 years old, Joanne Jordan saw something on TV that she would never forget. The screen projected images of a child – about Jordan's age – with an enormous belly and her feet in a stream, surrounded by flies and filth. Jordan looked around at her own clothes and toys and wondered how there could be people in the world who didn't even have a roof over their heads. "It sounds crazy but that really hit me like wow, I am pretty lucky. Over the years, that feeling stuck with me, and I began to realize that the most important thing you can possibly have is your health. I saw medicine as my way of giving back for having the good luck of being born in the United States to a family who loved me and could care for me."
WHAT HER STUDIES HAVE SHOWN
Jordan is the principal investigator of the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and is a leading cause of disability in this country. Researchers believe that the rural South may be especially hard-hit by arthritis. Jordan's Osteoarthritis Project is the first of its kind to look at the causes of this condition in both African-Americans and Caucasians in rural Johnston County. Over the last 25 years, the study has uncovered a number of interesting findings. For example, it showed that there are in fact more cases of arthritis in this rural area than elsewhere in the country. The study also discovered that osteoarthritis affects different joints in African Americans than in whites. And it found that people who are exposed to certain metals like lead tended to have more severe disease.
WHY SHE THINKS PEOPLE VOLUNTEER FOR HER RESEARCH STUDIES
"Osteoarthritis is so common, yet we know so little about it. For many people, volunteering for this project is an opportunity for them to be part of something that is bigger than themselves. To really be part of searching for a cure."
HER LATEST PASSION
Jordan participated in her first marathon in March, race walking the entire 26.2 miles of the Tobacco Road Marathon to protect her joints. Though she loved the experience, she plans to go back to doing half-marathons, at least for now, which are less taxing on her aging knees. "My husband jokes that I am a little late to this party. It is sort of funny to discover a love for running in your late fifties. I never thought I would like it, but now I just couldn't live without it. It is so much fun."