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#RareDiseases - Coping with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy powers Karan's passion to help others

18-year-old Karanveer Anand is all charged up as he starts a B.Sc programme at the M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bengaluru. Pretty incredible given his many struggles coping with a rare degenerative disease like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

For an 18-year-old, Karanveer Singh Anand sure knows his mind. This first year B.Sc. student in biotechnology, chemistry and microbiology wants to do in depth research into rare diseases.

Karanveer, who was diagnosed with a rare disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) at the age of eight, grew up watching his parents struggle for the right medical advice and treatment.

The struggles even pushed his father Ravdeep Singh Anand to open a genetic lab and study DMD in the hopes of finding a cure. Called Dystrophy Annihilation Research Trust (DART) , this is India's first research lab to focus on this rare genetic disease.

Like DMD, there are 7,000 rare diseases. My dad's lab, DART is taking care of DMD in the form of treatment and care, but this is just one among seven thousand. That's why I want to look into the other rare diseases. - Karanveer Singh Anand, Engineering student

This commitment and dedication have been Karan's hallmark right from childhood. A topper all through school, he scored 94.8% in the Class 12 CBSE board exam this year. His outstanding record won him a full scholarship to the M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Bengaluru.

Right spirit

The secret to his success? It's all attitude, says Karan. "Pursue what you love. Other children went for football coaching, music lessons, etc. For me, since it was difficult to do other things, studies are what I could focus on, so I decided to do my best in that.

His sincerity and hard work have won Karan many fans and admirers. He was head boy at the Delhi Public School (DPS) Bangalore North and Karan was the unanimous choice, says school principal Manju Arif.

"The boys who were contending with him for the post stepped down saying they wanted Karan to become the head boy, recalls Arif. "They said they would support him as school captains. The most beautiful part was during the oath ceremony. When the picture was being taken, everyone kneeled down so they were at the same level as Karan's wheelchair.

Karan's mother Movin Anand gives DPS North a lot of credit for enabling him.

"The school has an open mind and was committed to supporting Karan in every way possible. When he was in the primary section, they built a ramp in the school building and when he moved to the senior school, they had railings put up in corridors and washrooms. Later on, they installed a lift so that he could move easily between floors.

Arif, who has won the National award for best teacher, is widely respected for promoting inclusion in school education. She calls Karan her teacher.

"He was instrumental in us becoming inclusive and I regard him as my teacher in my walk towards inclusion. I have learned so much from Karan.

Research is his passion and when he has time, Karan is a typical teenager who loves music and plays the guitar. "I love the band Lincoln Park and am a member of the DART Band, which is made up of scientists from my dad's lab, he says with a shy laugh. "We all play some instrument or the other and even performed at my school carnival last year.

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