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Dr. James Eubanks is driven to find a cure for a disorder that afflicts young girls

Rebekah Hughes family

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Abby Congram, 17, has Rett syndrome, a rare neurological and developmental disorder that necessitates 24-7 assistance

In many ways, Abby Congram is a typical 17-year-old. She likes socializing with her friends, and she’s interested in boys and music (Great Big Sea and Meghan Trainor are her favourite artists). Abby also loves horses – there are pictures of horses all over her room, and she rides them near her home in Stratford, Ont.

But unlike most of her peers, Abby is unable to speak. She can’t use her hands to type or hold a pencil or eat. She needs 24-7 assistance for all the activities of daily living. Abby has Rett syndrome, a rare neurological and developmental disorder that affects girls almost exclusively.

One in 10,000 females around the world is born with Rett syndrome, a genetic disorder whose cause wasn't even known until 1999.