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Donor Profile

Anna and Neil Rasmussen

A Passion for Innovation Fuels Bold New Research

Neil and Anna RasmussenAnna and Neil Rasmussen believe in the power of innovation to solve the toughest medical problems. Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), a rare, currently incurable inflammatory disease of the sinuses is one such challenge the Rasmussens have taken on as enthusiastic champions.

In 2015, Anna and Neil met Benjamin Bleier, MD, FACS, a clinician-investigator in the Mass Eye and Ear Sinus Center and a leading expert in the study and treatment of CRS. “We were immediately impressed by Dr. Bleier’s novel approaches to research aimed at developing less invasive and more effective therapies for CRS,” said Anna. “He is an extraordinarily skilled and compassionate clinician and a truly visionary researcher. The prospect of partnering with him was an inspiration and an honor.”

Unlike acute rhinosinusitis, which is a temporary infection of the sinuses that often occurs after colds, CRS is a persistent problem that causes symptoms such as nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, facial pain, and reduced sense of smell. With CRS, symptoms last for 12 weeks or more and can significantly reduce quality of life.

For Dr. Bleier, caring for CRS patients in the Sinus Center is a constant reminder of the urgent need for better treatments. With this explicit goal, his laboratory studies the role of the body’s immune system in triggering inflammation of the nasal passages in CRS and has identified biological indicators of disease as potential targets for new treatment. He is currently screening candidate drugs in his lab to test their ability to treat and reverse inflammation caused by CRS, and hopes to begin testing the most promising of these drugs in animal models soon. Ultimately, he aims to develop multiple treatment approaches that can be evaluated in human trials.

Anna and Neil are invaluable partners in Dr. Bleier’s quest, making multiple generous gifts to expedite his research. There is no doubt their tremendous investment in his laboratory has and will continue to make a transformational impact—ultimately, bettering the lives of many thousands of patients.