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4ft tall Kingston alumni scientist seeks discovery of mysterious height condition

By Fran Warburton Feb 6, 2015

A Kingston alumni student who stopped growing at 4ft tall is to have his DNA tested as part of a national genetics study that aims to learn the secrets behind mystery conditions.

Michael Loweth, 37, whose older brother John also stopped growing, has never been able to discover the genetic cause of their condition, however the Government’s ground-breaking ‘100,000 genomes project’ will hopefully result in their diagnosis.

The ex-aerospace engineering student said: “The benefit of the research will be in understanding the conditions it reveals and this is only likely to benefit the next generation.”

The £300 million landmark government project will screen the DNA of more than 75,000 people, in order to help develop better drugs and diagnostic tests for rare diseases such as the one the Loweth brothers’ have.

Mr Loweth said: “There was no history of the condition in the family. When my brother was born he was significantly short and that was a big surprise.

“I came eight years later, by that time the geneticist felt like it was unlikely that I would have the same condition. However as soon as the senior consultant examined my arms and legs he said to my parents, ‘I think you’ve done it again’.”

The ex-engineering student’s height did not hold him back from living a full university life and Mr Loweth has fond memories of his time at Kingston University.

On top of his studies, he worked three jobs at the University, including pulling pints at Kingston Hill’s SU as well as competing with KU’s rowing team.

Being 4ft tall has its positives for Mr Loweth, during his time as head cox the team earned both half and full team colours, leading them to compete at Henley Royal Regatta with the men’s crew, and competing at the National Championships with the women’s crew.

On graduating from KU in 2000, Mr Loweth dreamed of working for NASA, which he eventually achieved three years later after completing a master’s degree in Space Studies in Strasbourg, France.

Now a scientist and satellite engineer, Mr Loweth said that he had not let his condition affect his life. He is even being taught to fly by none other than his ‘more practical’ brother John.

“We all have our own issues, and we learn to deal with them,” he said. “I guess I’ve learnt to deal with the peculiarities of my height and find that I automatically adjust to situations as they occur.”

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