The inherited metabolic diseases lab at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is over a thousand miles away from where Mia lives in Fairfax, Va. It sits on one of the many formidable hills that populate downtown Omaha, a surprise to anyone expecting flat land in this farming country that is textbook mid-west. What isn’t a surprise in mid-December, however, is the cold. It’s a smack to the senses; a sharp, dry, slice of air. It cuts down Dodge and across the sloping lawn of Memorial Park, up Farnam, past Warren Buffet’s modest brick colonial where the recycling sits out on the driveway, exhaling down the intersection of South Saddlecreek Road, and cresting over the top of the bluff where the red-brick Munroe Meyer Building sits.


Inside, Dr. Rushdia Yusuf, 34, a visiting researcher from Harvard, is using a pipette to transfer liquid cell samples into one-inch tall glass bottles.


“Let’s do it on the aldehydes from yesterday,” she says. “Which we’re going to get good data on, God-willing.”

Bone marrow samples are taped to a rotator machine.