In the Spotlight with JP De Douza
João Paulo De Souza
Sr. Program Manager, AllStripes
Tell us a bit about yourself, such as where do you live and what do you enjoy doing?
My name is João Paulo – I know, it’s a bit of a tongue twister, but most people call me JP. I’m a Bay Area native who returned after living in San Luis Obispo, California. From an early age, I knew I wanted to help people. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, most of my work has been in a variety of clinical and biotech settings: from creating treatment plans for children with varying developmental disorders to using AI for blood diagnostics.
These days, I’m a Sr. Program Manager at AllStripes, where our mission is to unlock new treatments for people affected by rare disease. I’m fortunate to work alongside many dedicated and talented individuals working toward the same mission, and seeing amazing work being done for communities like NPC. During my free time, I take advantage of the many hikes and parks the Bay Area has to offer with my best friend Samson, my 4-year-old Goldendoodle. I love to experience different cultures through travel, and of course, using my taste buds.
What caused you to get involved in the Niemann-Pick community?
The NPC Sibling Study was one of the first projects I started helping with when I joined the team here at AllStripes. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with NNPDF, Firefly Fund, Niemann-Pick Canada, and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund. Our work has allowed me to connect with members of the community and hear such unique and powerful stories, which continue to drive me each and every day.
How does the NPC Sibling Study support early NPC intervention?
The intent of the Sibling Study is to provide evidence to support the inclusion of NPC in newborn screening (NBS) programs. Achieving this will allow physicians to diagnose babies with NPC early, which will allow for early intervention. Early intervention may increase the effectiveness of treatments and improve quality of life. Getting NPC added to newborn screening panels would be a huge accomplishment and success for the community!
Why are sibling pairs needed for this research?
In short, the Sibling Study is attempting to show the effects of early intervention. How will this research project do this? When two siblings have the same diagnosis and one sibling had intervention earlier than the other, researchers can determine whether intervening early leads to slower symptom onset and/or decreased severity of symptoms.
Why is data from families whose loved ones have passed important to the study?
While there’s currently no cure for NPC, there have been advancements in treating it. Some of these advancements are recent enough that, in some cases, people who have died from NPC did not have the chance to be treated with disease-specific therapies. Comparing medical records from deceased patients to medical records from living patients can help provide evidence that early diagnosis and intervention makes a real difference. This means the records of loved ones who have passed away from NPC are especially helpful for researchers trying to build evidence for adding NPC to newborn screening.
What are your hopes for the future of the Niemann-Pick community?
My hope is that our work with the NPC community can support the addition of NPC to newborn screening panels. Beyond that, our goal is to unlock new treatments for the NPC community. There are many like me who are working toward this goal, and the Sibling Study is just the first study we hope to work on for the NPC community.
How can families get involved?
To join other patients and families on AllStripes go to allstripes.com/npc.
If anyone has any questions about the study of AllStripes, please feel free to email email@example.com.