Founders Breakfast


Ashley Marquis

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


Cheryl Gunvalson, a clinical instructor at the UND College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines, recently spoke at the Founders Breakfast at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center at the University of Minnesota along with her son, Jacob.

The event focused on research support and the progress that has been made on muscular dystrophy in the past ten years.

Prior to 2001, muscular dystrophy research was not well funded. Thanks to the help of the late Senator Paul Wellstone efforts, the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education (MDCare) act was authorized in 2001. The act established the Muscular Dystrophy Center and since then much research has been performed regarding muscular dystrophy and potential cures for the disease.

Jacob Gunvalson, 22, is a student studying social work while battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Senator Wellstone took an interest in Jacob that inspired him to author legislation for muscular dystrophy. Wellstone quoted Jacob on the senate floor saying, "My only wish in the world is a cure for muscular dystrophy."

After Jacob was diagnosed, Cheryl became an activist for the care and treatment of individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Cheryl contacted Minnesota Congressional delegation and traveled many times to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the MDCare Act. Since then, Cheryl has encouraged muscular dystrophy research at National Institute of Health (NIH) and helped review muscular dystrophy proposals with NIH.

At the event, Cheryl thanked the researchers, talked about new breakthroughs in muscular dystrophy research, and shared her personal experiences she and her family have shared battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Current research has shown ways to improve muscle function and various new therapies for muscular dystrophy have been suggested. Joseph Metzge from the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology developed a therapy that protects degenerated muscles in the heart caused by muscular dystrophy. Metzge hopes to begin research on humans soon.

Information was gathered from the Tri County Canary article published October 23, 2013 titled, "Celebrating ten years of Research Support at the Wellstone Center" and the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center Founders Breakfast pamphlet.