Twenty year old Brooke Greenberg hasn’t grown since age five. For the last 15 years mystified doctors have been unable to explain the cause for Brooke’s disorder that has kept her aging in check. At age twenty, she maintains the physical and mental appearance of a toddler.
Eric Shadt wants to solve this most bizarre of medical mysteries. Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, Shadt is leading research to uncover the genetic cause for Brooke’s condition.
Because hormones control many of the maturation processes, one of the first things the research team looked at was to see if Brooke’s own hormone levels might be abnormal. In a piece he wrote on Katie Couric’s website on whose show he and the Greenberg family recently appeared, Shadt explained that Brooke “has no apparent abnormalities in her endocrine system, no gross chromosomal abnormalities, or any of the other disruptions known to occur in humans that can cause developmental issues.”
The researchers are now painstakingly analyzing Brooke’s entire genome in search of unique mutations. Needless to say, it is a formidable undertaking. “Cracking the code on Brooke’s condition,” Shadt wrote, “is the proverbial searching for a needle in a haystack, since likely there is one or a small number of letters changed in Brooke’s genome that has caused her condition.”