Dr. Darcy B. Tannehill Amyloidosis Research and Education Fund

Editor’s note: Darcy Tannehill passed away on Saturday, April 21, 2018 after courageously and passionately battling Amyloidosis for six years. To view her obituary and offer condolences, please follow this link. Gifts can also be made in Darcy’s memory to support the Dr. Darcy B. Tannehill Amyloidosis Research and Education Fund by contacting Jim Olsen at 412-647-7781 or ojim@pmhsf.org.

Darcy Tannehill (EdD ’09) was diagnosed in 2012 with light chain amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by the production of abnormal protein (called amyloid) in the body. She underwent a bone marrow transplant that same year, but the battle didn’t end there. Amyloidosis is an ongoing and relentless condition, and Darcy is currently completing her twelfth round of chemotherapy.

Throughout her own battle, Darcy has remained passionate about amyloidosis research, education, and support.

“I found that there were few answers and many questions,” she said. “I had to research information on my own and find my own support systems.”

According to Darcy, there is no treatment for her disease, but instead they “borrow treatment from multiple myeloma,” which often includes chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. Still, 80 percent of those diagnosed with light chain amyloidosis will not survive more than one to two years, and few live longer than six to eight years.

“Until recently, nothing was being done for amyloidosis locally, and with time of the utmost urgency, I needed to do something to change that situation,” she said.

Darcy made a gift to the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, establishing the Dr. Darcy B. Tannehill Amyloidosis Research and Education Fund.

Darcy worked at Pitt early in her career and received her doctorate degree from the School of Education, additionally her late husband’s family has a long lineage of Pitt alumni. But personal connections aside, Darcy felt that Pitt was the only place she could trust with such an important mission.

“Pitt is the only institution in our area that is capable of doing this important research,” she said. “It was not acceptable to me that people from the amyloidosis community did not view Pittsburgh as a go-to place for amyloidosis care. I needed to work to change that reality and perception.”

Darcy’s gift will help Mark Gladwin, MD, chairman of the Department of Medicine and director of the Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Institute at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and his team to conduct groundbreaking Amyloidosis research that will translate into cutting-edge patient care.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with Darcy to advance UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh research and clinical efforts to improve the lives of our patients suffering from Amyloidosis,” Dr. Gladwin said. “We are entering a new era where advances in testing has helped our clinical experts diagnose this disease earlier and our understanding of the mechanisms that cause this disease has presented new targets for research and treatment.”

In addition to this generous contribution, Darcy has also made a planned gift to ensure that her hard work will be continued. She hopes that her gift helps Pitt to become a powerhouse in amyloidosis research, ultimately helping to save many lives.

“Rare diseases are often ignored with little funding. Patients slip through the cracks,” Darcy said. “We need research for treatment and a cure.”

Darcy also supports amyloidosis awareness in many other capacities. She is on the Board of Directors for the national Amyloidosis Foundation, and in 2016, she started a local fundraiser with her daughter – the Pittsburgh Amyloidosis Research Benefit. This year’s event will be held October 26, 2018. She hopes to begin a local amyloidosis support group in the near future.

“The selfless efforts of patients like Darcy have played such an important role in supporting research that has advanced our understanding of Amyloidosis and helped develop new therapies that are currently being tested,” said Prem Soman, MD, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Multidisciplinary Cardiac Amyloidosis Center. “We are so grateful for her philanthropy. This is an exciting time for patients and their families, physicians and researchers, and everyone in the field, with real therapeutic hope just around the corner.”

About Darcy

Education

University of Pittsburgh, EdD in Higher Education Management, 2009
Duquesne University, MS in Education, 1986
Duquesne University, BA in Psychology and Sociology, 1978

University of Pittsburgh
Alumni Association Life Member

Career

Dr. Tannehill has spent the majority of her career in higher education working in academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment management, international admissions, and campus management. She has held a number of academic and administrative positions in both Pittsburgh and Chicago, including Vice President for online and blended learning at Argosy University, a for-profit university in Chicago (2005-2007); President of the online campus at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology (2007-2010); and Vice President of online and off-campus programs at Robert Morris University (2010-2014). Since 2014, she has served as an Associate Professor of Education at Robert Morris University. In 2017, she was elected to the board of the Amyloidosis Foundation.

Spouse (deceased)

Norman B. Tannehill Jr. (08/22/1950-01/05/2009) – born in Pittsburgh; graduated high school from Valley Forge Military Academy; bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Robert Morris University; MSEd from Capella University; Ed.D. from Argosy University, online faculty for computer information systems; member of the Merkur Club of America, Sons of Union Veterans, Sons of the American Revolution.

Children

Courtney A. Sullivan – Courtney is English and Communications faculty at multiple institutions and co-chairs the Pittsburgh Amyloidosis Research Benefit with her mother. She lives in McDonald, PA, with her husband, Dr. Adam Sullivan, who works at RMU as the Manager of Instructional Design and Faculty Support, and their daughter, Alaina.

Dr. Tannehill’s hobbies include Shetland Sheepdog rescue and playing the piano.

Darcy with her daughter, Courtney Sullivan, and granddaughter, Alaina. (source)

The Tannehill Family @ Pitt

The Tannehill name has been associated with the University of Pittsburgh and its School of Medicine since the 1800’s.

Darcy B. Tannehill
EdD 2009

Norman B. Tannehill, Sr.
Father-in-Law
(1917-2016)
BUN 1940 A&S
MD 1942 MED (Valedictorian)

Maxine Hart Tannehill
Mother-in-Law
(1919-2009)
Surgical nurse at the Eye & Ear Institute circa 1940s

Joseph King Tannehill
MD 1905 MED

Awareness – Getting the Word Out

Amyloidosis: A puzzle for both patients and doctors

by Jill Daly
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
September 20, 2016

South Fayette woman focused on fighting incurable disease

by Suzanne Elliott
Tribune-Review
October 14, 2017

“Darcy Tannehill – Refusing to be a Victim”

Holly Dowling Podcast
May 2017

Local Woman Wants to Raise Awareness for Rare Disease

with Kristine Sorensen
Pittsburgh Today Live  |  KDKA/CBSPittsburgh
January 2017

Patient Resources

Dr. Tannehill currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Amyloidosis Foundation.  In 2015, she documented her patient experience to-date in the foundation’s newsletter. Click here to read, “A New Life and A Life-Threatening Challenge.”

The Amyloidosis Foundation website is a great resource for patients and families.

Interested in participating in a local support group for Amyloidosis patients and their families?

Please contact:  Darcy B. Tannehill  |  724-693-2518  |  d.tannehill@comcast.net

The Third Annual Pittsburgh Amyloidosis Research Benefit Gala will be held on Saturday, October 26, 2018 at 5:30pm at Montour Heights Country Club, Coraopolis, PA.

Proceeds benefit the national Amyloidosis Foundation which provides research grants and patient information and support and the Darcy B. Tannehill, Ed.D. Amyloidosis Research and Education Fund at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

Past Events

 

October 28, 2016 – First Pittsburgh Amyloidosis Research Benefit Gala

 

October 27, 2017 – Second Annual Pittsburgh Amyloidosis Research Benefit Gala