History of the Amish Research Clinic
In the early 1990s, Dr. Alan Shuldiner was a new University of Maryland faculty member interested in Type 2 diabetes. At that time, the Amish were already known for their participation in genetic studies. Shuldiner did an initial diabetes study, via word-of-mouth and door-to-door connections made through an Amish woman in Intercourse, PA. He processed the blood samples using a centrifuge in the trunk of his car. In 1995, he opened the clinic, first housing it in the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, which cares for and studies genetic disorders common to Amish and Old Order Mennonite children. Currently the clinic is located at 921 Village Road in Lancaster PA.
Shuldiner says he's learned more than just genetic information from the local Amish community, which numbers about 44,000. "Their sense of family and community is really a big deal," he says. "There is almost nothing they can't do, no problem is too large, in how they come together and help each other."
And now, they are helping to lay a genetic groundwork that will help their community and others down the road, he says. "We are here to help them and they are here to help mankind," Shuldiner says.