The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced grants totaling $6 million in support of seven research projects addressing the causes of sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease, the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, affects approximately a hundred thousand Americans. Patients with sickle cell disease carry dysfunctional red blood cells that alter regular blood flow, which translates into pain, poor organ oxygenation and organ damage, and a life span of only about forty years.
The first grants awarded through DDCF's Sickle Cell Disease/Advancing Cures awards competition will support projects designed to develop disease-modifying approaches to sickle cell disease and translate them into clinically feasible therapies. By restoring hemoglobin function, researchers aim to remove patients' need to manage the disease's acute, devastating, and lifelong symptoms, ultimately increasing their life expectancy.
Grant recipients include Eric E. Bouhassira of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Donald B. Hohn of the University of California, Los Angeles; Mitch J. Weiss and Shengdar Q. Tsai of St. Jude Children's Hospital; Stuart H. Orkin and Daniel E. Bauer of Boston Children's Hospital; Patrick T. McGann of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Patrick M. Woster of the Medical University of South Carolina; and Allistair A. Abraham and Robert S. Nickel of the Children's National Health System and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
"Those with sickle cell disease often experience chronic pain and crippling side effects beginning as early as childhood," said Betsy Myers, program director for medical research at DDCF. "We applaud recent scientific progress and advances in drug development to address the disease, yet acknowledge that there is still significant work to be done at the foundational, curative levels of research. We are excited to be launching the Sickle Cell Disease/Advancing Cures awards in support of these outstanding research projects. We are hopeful and expectant that their findings will promote development of curative treatments and improve patients' lives."