PORTLAND — It's not uncommon for politicians to request campaign donations. But Oregon's Republican chairman is asking for people's urine.
Along with being a failed congressional candidate and current head of the Oregon Republican Party, Art Robinson is a scientist. He hopes to collect thousands of samples to help researchers develop urine tests capable of detecting diseases years before symptoms arise.
"You may know me through my family's recent efforts to improve our representation in Congress," Robinson writes in his plea for urine, mailed last week to all 42,000 addresses in Josephine County. "There is, however, something more that I hope you will help us with. Please consider giving my colleagues and me — a sample of your urine."
Human urine contains thousands of chemicals deposited by cells in the body.
Robinson is trying to recruit thousands of people to send him samples of their urine every six months, he said. He hopes to be able to look for patterns consistent in the urine samples of people who eventually develop a degenerative disease such as cancer. Identifying the pattern might allow researchers to develop a urine test to detect the very early signs of disease.
Early detection can allow doctors and patients to take preventive measures.
"We know that the effects are there for many years before the person knows he's sick," Robinson said. "It would be nice to find it before he knows he's sick and fight the probability of illness."