Pathbreakers

PathBreakersTitle

 Peter

Peter Mogayzel Jr., MD, PhD
Finding A Cure For Cystic Fibrosis

By Kymberly Taylor  |  Photography by Angie Meyers

You do not want cystic fibrosis (CF). This hereditary lung disease is diagnosed at infancy and when first identified in the 1930s had a life expectancy of two years. In simple terms, the gene that regulates the fluids that lubricate human organs malfunctions. Thick sticky mucus builds up in the lungs, gradually blocking airways. It progressively affects digestive tract, pancreas and many other organs, causing infections, diabetes and eventually lung failure.

The disease was attractive, though, to Dr. Peter J. Mogayzel Jr., a lanky postgraduate completing his pediatric residency at the University of Washington after earning his MD and PhD degrees from Boston University. He tended many infants and children with CF and was all too familiar with the ravages of the disease and parents expressing anger at the lack of a cure.

Mogayzel completed his residency in 1989. It was perfect timing. In June 1989, Francis Collins at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) identified the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. A small DNA mutation in this gene was found to cause CF. This finding was the single most important discovery to date in CF research and life altering for Mogayzel.

Determined to learn more, after finishing his residency Mogayzel moved to Annapolis and worked with Collins’ team at the NIH. The move was similar to studying weightlifting with Hercules. Shortly after discovering the CFTR, Collins and collaborators isolated the genes for Huntington’s disease, another seminal breakthrough. What’s more, the basic gene sequence of the human species was about to be mapped for the first time in what was called the Human Genome Project. Collins was one of the project’s leaders and he is now the director of the NIH.

With the fresh discovery of the mutated CFTR gene, Mogayzel was at the fountainhead of genetic molecular research and involved in experiments regarding the CFTR gene regulation and many others. Mogayzel worked for four years at the NIH while completing his pediatric pulmonary and pediatric critical care fellowships at Johns Hopkins. In 1998, Mogayzel joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins. In addition to his work in CF, Mogayzel was instrumental in starting the first pediatric lung transplant program at Johns Hopkins. This work is showcased on ABC’s documentary Hopkins 24/7.

Today, due to ongoing research, trials and novel therapies, median life expectancy for a patient with CF averages 40 years, with some patients living into their 60s and 70s, notes Mogayzel. But importantly, hope has replaced despair. “It came from the parents who refused to accept there was not yet a cure. It shows how expectation can affect outcomes. With new therapies and drugs we could see a cure in the next ten years. Repairing the mutation, the DNA itself, could lead to a cure for the disease,” says Mogayzel. He was appointed director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Johns Hopkins in 2002 and, in addition to seeing patients, is working to improve clinical outcomes for all patients with CF by authoring national clinical care guidelines for CF treatment. However, any drama is invisible. From his peaceful Annapolis garden, he drives calmly to work, quietly at the forefront of the attack on this deadly disease.

 

For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Johns Hopkins University, visit hopkinscf.org.

 

Marnie

 

Marnie Kagan, MBA
Funding for the Arts

By Christine Fillat  |  Photography by Angie Meyers

Marnie Kagan, a mother of 11-year-old twins, is a force in Annapolis, not just in shaping the cultural art scene as president of the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County but also in assisting with two additional major organizations: the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Historic Annapolis. You may see her in Annapolis on her way to her third or fourth meeting of the day.

With a million-dollar budget, Kagan and the three-person staff and board of the Arts Council are responsible for funding programs that foster the arts. The Arts Council provides annual operating and strategic grants to about 40 different organizations. It also assists in the direction and funding of the Annapolis Arts and Entertainment District. In Annapolis, the district is marked by colorful banners and runs along West Street from Calvert Street to include parts of Spa Road. In addition to granting Annie Awards to celebrate individual achievements in literature, art, performing arts and music, every year the council offers Arts in Education grants to schools in Anne Arundel County.

Arts in Education is Kagan’s personal favorite Arts Council program. Schools apply for grants for musicians and artists to come to their schools and put on a performance. “We provide the opportunity for thousands of elementary school children to see acts and music and dance that they might not otherwise see and it’s all tied to their curriculum,” states Kagan. “That’s the best thing we can do.”

What is most remarkable about Kagan is her ability to see through to the heart of an institution and pinpoint its needs. “Being part of the Arts Council, you get to know all of the arts organizations. You know who could benefit from a little extra money. And really take things to the next level. And who’s using their money wisely,” notes Kagan. “I think when you’re involved and going to performances and evaluating organizations, and meeting with them, you sort of know who’s doing it well, and how you can help them. How money can help them.”

With a BA in political science and psychology from Colgate and an MBA from the Middlebury Institute, Kagan has worked in investment banking and as a vice president of business development for an online auction house. She is on the board of Historic Annapolis. Headquartered in the historic Brice House and overseeing the William Paca House and Gardens and much more, Historic Annapolis ensures the city’s rich history is preserved and embedded in the city’s contemporary life. She is a co-chair with her husband, Jonathan Kagan, for Bands in the Sand, the largest annual fundraiser for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

But it’s probably her family’s involvement with the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home in DC that forged her life-long commitment to giving back. Kagan’s grandfather helped build this non-profit home for low and moderate income residents 75 years ago, and her family has had something to do with it ever since. She presently helps manage their endowment and is their treasurer. The Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home is close to Kagan’s heart. “That,” says Kagan, “I have to be involved in forever.”

When her volunteer commitments are done for the day, what does Marnie Kagan do for fun? “I raise children,” she says. “We go out on the water, we boat, we sail, we head to the Eastern Shore. With 11-year-old twins there’s not a whole lot of time. When you ask the question, ‘What do you do for fun?’ your fun must revolve around your kids. As it should be. It’s such a short period of time in your life, you know. We can have fun with them.” It is hard to believe, with all of her accomplishments, energy and ideas in progress, that Marnie Kagan is just one person. We are all lucky she calls Annapolis home.

 

For more information about the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, visit acaac.org.

 

Molly

 

Molly Knipe, MSS, MLSP
Conquering Domestic Violence

By Christine Fillat  |  Photography by Angie Meyers

On its surface, all is well in Annapolis. Sailboats race in fleets in the sunshine and tourists and locals sip cappuccinos at outdoor cafes. However, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County have a darker side, one rarely mentioned: domestic violence that cuts across race, class, and gender and sexual trafficking. More than 70,162 women in Anne Arundel County have suffered from domestic violence, enough to fill a Baltimore football stadium. Many teenagers, runaways and single mothers behind closed doors in quiet colonials and swank hotels are prostitutes and live in violent circumstances.

That’s where Molly Knipe steps in. Knipe is the chief executive officer of the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and has been there for eight years. Since she touched down in Annapolis, she has been a whirlwind of activity, procuring state, national and private funding to transform the organization’s headquarters in Arnold into a welcoming space offering a hotline, counseling, legal assistance, education, job assistance and Healing Arts Studio.

Also, the YWCA operates Arden House, the county’s only domestic violence safe house, where abused women and their children can find shelter and assistance in changing their lives.

The YWCA is in the midst of their capital campaign, Fresh Starts. They are now in phase 1, the construction of a new safe house with a goal to raise $5.5 million. These dollars will provide for a much larger domestic violence shelter, a secondary residential treatment program for trafficked youth and supports to transition to independent housing.

In the bustle of everything else, Molly attributes her success in large part to the support of her husband, Arland, as the initiatives of the YWCA have become a family affair. She has recently launched her own Big Kid Camp, a private retreat opportunity for women in the Annapolis area. In addition to taking cooking classes and focusing on organic gardening with her daughter Grace, Molly’s favorite pastime is attending Nitro Circus, Charm City Roller Girls and Chicago Blackhawks games. Like her vocation, these sports are chaotic, high-energy, with a certain amount of risk involved, and beautiful in their execution.

 

To learn more about the Fresh Starts Campaign and other Annapolis and Anne Arundel County YWCA programs, go to annapolisywca.org.

For more information about life at Big Kid Camp and its offerings, visit bigkidcamp.org.

 

Geoffrey

 

Geoffrey Voigt
A Mini Kennedy Center for Annapolis

By Christine Fillat  |  Photography by Angie Meyers

Geoffrey B. Voigt and his volunteer team have an infectious zeal for a project that will revolutionize Annapolis: the Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts (MTPA). This 58-million-dollar gem is tucked away in portfolios and display boards, awaiting final adjustments before its Capital Campaign kicks off. The plan is attractive: a 1,000-seat world-class performing arts center, conference center and art gallery for the city of Annapolis and region—a mini Kennedy Center situated on West Street in Park Place. The center will be equipped to draw and accommodate world-class performers and off-Broadway shows.

A financial planner for Wells Fargo Advisors in Annapolis, Voigt, who is president of the MTPA Board of Directors, spends one third of his day, six days a week, ushering this unbuilt theatre into reality. A Naval Academy graduate (class of ’82), with a history of “driving ships around,” Voigt is running this project with the precision of a military campaign. “Annapolis has given me so much. It gave me my education, it gave me art and culture and history, and [now I’m] in a position to give back,” states Voigt. “That is my main aim.”

Voigt is a fast talking dynamo with all the vital statistics for the performing arts center embedded in his brain. The average ticket price will be about $53. The hall will have performances 153 nights a year. Yearly usage will be broken down to 80 percent performances, 10 percent conferences, and the remaining 10 percent will be rentals. With an estimated 148,000 people visiting the center a year, and perhaps 10 percent of those folks staying for the night, that adds up to a possible $7 million in revenue for the hotels. This translates into hundreds of thousands of hotel tax dollars yearly to the city and the state and more dollars flowing to restaurants and shopping districts. So, in essence, the performing arts center could be a welcome long-term boost to the city’s economy.

Voigt is active in the community and participates in the Annapolis Arts District, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. This type of involvement brought him an invitation to join the board for the MTPA. Board members, all volunteers, invest $10,000 each. This money provides a foundation for the feasibility studies. “Everybody is in it for the right reason,” says Voigt. “Nobody is in this to make money. We just want it to happen.”

The board has 19 members but would like to have 35. “We’ve raised about $540,000 over the past two years,” says Voigt. “This is operational money used for marketing, land maintenance, architect fees and taxes. The Capital Campaign (the money used specifically to build the theatre) is the heavy lift. $58 million is
a lot.”

Voigt and the MTPA will soon launch the Capital Campaign. “We still need to get a couple of things in order. You only get one chance to ask a well-heeled prospective donor for money, or a foundation or a corporation. We’re just about at that point.”

The board of the Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts estimates that it will take five to six years for the curtain to go up. We will be looking forward to the curtain call.

 

For more information about Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts and its mission, visit mtpa-annapolis.org.