The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students organize Crohn’s Growth Foundation

What started as a conversation between SMU juniors Sam Aronowitz and Stephen Poulin became a new foundation looking to change the way SMU views Crohn’s disease.

Both Aronowitz and Poulin have family members with the disease. Aronowitz said these family members are the ones who motivated them to start the Crohn’s Growth Foundation.

Considered a genetic disease by some medical professionals, Crohn’s disease involves the inflammation of the small and large intestines, resulting in side effects such as stomach-ache, diarrhea, fatigue, malnutrition and stunted growth in children.

“People with Crohn’s disease are really secretive about their side effects, considering their sensitive nature,” Poulin said. “Crohn’s is much more debilitating than it looks on the surface.”

Both Poulin and Aronowitz have met a fair amount of students on SMU’s campus with Crohn’s disease. Dr. Nancy Merrill, co-medical director at SMU’s Memorial Health Center, said she has seen a slight increase in SMU students who have Crohn’s disease, though she does not know why.

 “These students never use the disease as a crutch,” Merrill said. “They are very familiar with Crohn’s, and know their body and how it works.”

After deciding that they both felt a need to advocate for research regarding Crohn’s disease, Poulin and Aronowitz took to the Internet trying to uncover possible cures and treatments that could help a Crohn’s patient. It was then that the two uncovered studies using the human growth hormone (HGH) in the fight against Crohn’s.  

While Aronowitz said HGH is a compelling option for Crohn’s patients, experts are pushing for more research and are not yet advocating treatment using the hormone.

Aronowitz and Poulin enlisted the help of SMU senior Nathan Mitzner to form and shape their Crohn’s Growth Foundation. Mitzner, a risk management major, jumped at the opportunity.

Mitzner also has a personal connection to Crohn’s disease.

“It’s interesting that we all have distinct backgrounds and come from three different areas, but we come together for a common cause because it’s what we believe in,” Aronowitz said.

To bring more attention to research regarding HGH use in Crohn’s treatment, Aronowitz and Poulin’s Crohn’s Growth Foundation has gone online with its own website and Facebook group to garner signatures for their online petition.

“We started the petition hoping that people would print it and encourage their co-workers and family to sign it,” Poulin said. “It is this kind of chain reaction that we are counting on to gather signatures.”

Not only are Aronowitz and Poulin gathering an online following, but they are also gaining support and interest from faculty at SMU. One faculty member, Dr. Eva Oberdorster, an SMU physiology professor of nine years, became interested in the organization.

Aronowitz and Poulin met Oberdorster in their freshman biology class.

“The two are very motivated towards their cause and [are] dedicated to Crohn’s disease,” Oberdorster said.

To further educate the SMU campus about Crohn’s disease, Poulin and Aronowitz’s Crohn’s Growth Foundation is planning to host speeches and events in hopes of shedding light on Crohn’s disease.

“We really want the Crohn’s Growth Foundation to be a presence on SMU’s campus and to further push for the research needed to make Crohn’s disease an easier condition to live with,” Aronowitz said.

For more information on upcoming events, visit, or follow the “Crohn’s Growth Foundation,” page on Facebook.

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