AUBURN — Dr. Dervilla McCann will be the featured speaker at the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society’s Spring General Meeting to be held on Saturday, April 22, at the Auburn Public Library.
The general meeting will take place beginning at 10 a.m. Dr. McCann’s presentation will begin at about 11 a.m. and is free and open to the general public.
The discussion will center on inheritance patterns of Franco-Americans, with particular attention to a disorder of cholesterol.
Some health matters are under a person’s control, including food choices and exercise. Other health factors, including inherited conditions, are not a matter of choice. One genetic trait that is common in Franco-American New England communities is familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH. FH is one of the most common inherited genetic forms of heart disease, in which the cholesterol produced by the body is not recycled properly. That leads to very high cholesterol levels — and early heart attacks and strokes.
Franco-Americans in the New England area are most generally descendants of the original founders of Quebec. Tracing the history of their migration from France to Canada and, eventually, to New England during the industrial revolution, the reasons for the inheritance pattern becomes clear.
Franco-Americans have persevered to become one of the most important founding groups in New England, and an understanding of their history and genetic predispositions will be important to create specific programs supporting individuals at high risk for inherited conditions.
A graduate of Bates College, Dr. McCann received a Naval Armed Forces Health Scholarship to attend Tufts University School of Medicine. After medical school, she completed a residency in internal medicine at New York University, followed by active duty service at San Diego Naval Hospital where she also completed a fellowship in cardiology. After nine years of Naval service, Dr. McCann left the Navy at the rank of commander, and moved with her family to Maine, where she practiced cardiology until 2014. She took a year leave of absence to complete a master’s degree in public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with a concentration in policy and management, graduating in 2015. Since that time, she has served as chief of population health at Central Maine Health Care.