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As a little Hawaiian, my mom and auntie always told me stories about Kalaupapa
the Hawaiian leper colony surrounded by the highest sea cliffs in the world
and Father Damien, the Belgian missionary who gave his life for the Hawaiian community.
As a young nurse, my aunt trained the nuns caring for the remaining lepers almost a 100 years after Father Damien died of leprosy.
I remember stories she told about traveling down switchback cliff paths on a mule,
while my uncle played her favorite hula songs on the ukulele all the way down to Kalaupapa.
You see, as a youngster, I was always curious about a few things.
First was why a Belgian missionary chose to live in complete isolation in Kalaupapa,
knowing he would inevitably contract leprosy from the community of people he sought to help.
And secondly, where did the leprosy bacteria come from?
And why were Kānaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawaii, so susceptible to developing leprosy, or "mai Pake?"
This got my curious about what makes us unique as Hawaiians -- namely, our genetic makeup.
But it wasn't until high school, through the Human Genome Project,
that I realized I wasn't alone in trying to connect our unique genetic ancestry to our potential health, wellness and illness.
You see, the 2.7 billion-dollar project promised an era of predictive and preventative medicine based on our unique genetic makeup.
在我还是一个年幼的夏威夷人时,我的母亲和姑姑经常跟我讲关于卡劳帕帕的故事,
那个地方充满夏威夷的麻风病患者,被世界上最高的悬崖包围。
还有为夏威夷社区奉献一生的比利时传教士--达米安神父的故事。
我的姑姑,作为一名年轻的护士,在达米安神父死于麻风病近一百年后,训练修女们照顾剩下的麻风病患者。
我依旧记得她讲述的故事:她和我的叔叔骑着骡子穿行在高低起伏的悬崖小路上,
我的叔叔用尤克里里琴弹奏她最喜欢的夏威夷歌曲,直到到达卡劳帕帕。
作为一个儿童,我一直对一些事情感到好奇。
首先,为什么一个比利时传教士要选择在卡劳帕帕住着与世隔绝的生活,
并且不可避免会从他帮助的社区里的人们那里传染到麻风病。
还有,卡劳帕帕的麻风病菌是哪里来的?
为什么夏威夷的土著居民如此容易受到麻风病的感染?
这让我好奇是什么让我们夏威夷人不同?答案就是我们的基因。
但是直到高中,通过一个人类基因组的项目,
我才发现我并不是唯一一个想要追溯我们特有的基因祖先,为了了解我们的潜在健康和疾病。
要知道,这个27亿美元的计划在研究我们特有基因的基础上保证了一个可预测,可预防的医疗时代。
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