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Doctor to discuss prevalence of inherited cholesterol disorder among Franco Americans


Dr. Dervilla McCann

At the Spring General Meeting of the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society on Saturday, April 22 at 11 a.m., Dr. Dervilla McCann will discuss the prevalence of an inherited cholesterol disorder among the Franco Americans of New England. Free and open to the public, the program will take place at Auburn Public Library.

Some health matters, like food choices and exercise, are under our control, while others, like inherited conditions, are not a matter of choice. One genetic trait that is more common among the Franco Americans of New England than most other ethnic groups around the world is FH, a genetically inherited form of heart disease which prevents cholesterol produced by the body from being properly recycled. This leads to very high levels of cholesterol and the danger of early heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. McCann will discuss why this inheritance pattern becomes clear when we trace the history of New England’s Franco Americans from France to Canada and eventually to New England during the industrial revolution, and how greater understanding of the group’s history and genetic predispositions will help create specific programs to support those at high risk for inherited conditions.

A graduate of Bates College, McCann received a Naval Armed Forces Health Scholarship to attend Tufts University School of Medicine. After medical school, she completed a residency in Internal Medicine at New York University, followed by active duty service. After nine years, she left the Navy at the rank of Commander, moving with her family to Maine to practice cardiology. In 2015, she took a one-year leave to complete a Master’s degree in public health at Harvard, with a concentration in policy and management. Since then, she has served as Chief of Population Health at Central Maine Health Care.

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