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Stem Cell scientist Raj Kittappa, whose research discoveries are being used around the world as the building blocks to create a cure for Parkinson’s disease, announced that he has filed the necessary nominating petitions to seek the Democratic nod for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District.
“Our region of Pennsylvania can become the new frontier for discovery and innovation in this country. I’m running for Congress because the 16th District deserves a leader who represents those same qualities and can be the non-partisan problem solver we need,” he said.
Kittappa is running for Pennsylvania’s 16th congressional district against current Congressman Joe Pitts. Kittappa said Pitts’s votes for the shutdown of the federal government and having one of the most partisan voting records in the state prove, “Congressman Pitts is out of touch with Pennsylvanians and what they expect from their elected officials – common sense solutions to pressing problems like improving schools, creating jobs, and protecting retirement security. As a scientist, I focus on solutions.”
Kittappa, whose parents are Indian and came to the region in the 1960’s, is a graduate of Lancaster Country Day School, where he was an academic standout. Driven by memories of his grandmother’s long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Kittappa went into the biomedical sciences, doing lab work in the nearby Franklin & Marshall College while still in high-school and then graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in biology.
Later, after graduating from Princeton University with a PhD in Molecular Biology, Raj Kittappa went to work for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was there that he was able to isolate the origins of the dopamine generating cells in the brain that are lost to Parkinson’s. That new discovery, hitherto unknown by medical science, is being used by scientists around the world as they attempt to cure the disease. Kittappa has aided in that effort, most recently working at University of Cambridge, developing a patent for an embryonic stem cell process for regenerating brain cells.
In 2013, Kittappa returned to Lancaster County intent on creating a company around that patent, but was outraged to find the federal government shutdown had damaged vital medical research in the country. It is what motivated him to run, as he says “Even one day lost in the fight to cure diseases like the one that afflicted my grandmother is one day too many. Tea Party extremists in Congress cannot be allowed to hold hostage the physical health of our families nor the financial health of the middle-class who rely on schools, jobs, and secure retirement to better their lives.”
The 16th District covers parts of Chester and Berks counties, and almost all of Lancaster County which is home to approximately 70% of registered voters in the district. The Cook Report ranks the district as R+4, and an October 2013 poll of the district by Public Policy Polling showed a generic Democratic opponent leading Joe Pitts 44-40% and leading Joe Pitts 48-42% after hearing about Pitt’s votes for the federal government shutdown.Raj Kittappa will be officially launching his campaign in the coming weeks.