Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission Hosts Sickle Cell Summit, "Sickle Cell Disease in Maryland: How Can We Optimize Therapy and Care?"
Summit brings together patients, researchers, legislators and physicians to learn about the latest research, treatment and prevention for sickle cell disease. Commission also announces 2014 Request for Applications.

BALTIMORE (Sept. 24, 2013) - In the U.S., between 70,000 and 100,000 people have sickle cell disease and many of these patients are in Maryland. To bring awareness and education to this illness, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission (Commission) today hosted a sickle cell summit titled, "Sickle Cell Disease in Maryland: How Can We Optimize Therapy and Care?. "Before the summit, which was held in Anne Arundel County, Md., the Commission also approved its 2014 Requests for Applications (RFAs).

"Sickle cell disease is a serious medical condition that affects thousands of Marylanders each and every day, "said Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner, chair of the Commission. "Because of the vested public interest in sickle cell disease, the Commission felt it was important to put together an event that highlights treatment advancements and research regarding this disease. Stem cells play a crucial role in the future of sickle cell treatment and we’re pleased to present this summit which also draws attention to the importance of Maryland's stem cell research program."

"Scientific advances offer tremendous hope for the treatment of sickle cell disease, "said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). "I appreciate the work that will be done today to bring together patients, clinicians, and researchers to accelerate progress."

The summit featured research, treatment and prevention panels as well as an advocacy and awareness panel. Opening speakers included Dr. Dan Gincel, Executive Director of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund and Dr. Sharfstein. Other speakers included Dr. Robert Brodsky from Johns Hopkins Medicine who discussed half-matched bone marrow transportation for sickle cell disease; Dr. Debbie Badawi of DHMH who spoke about newborn screening and long term care follow-up of sickle cell disease; Dr. Sophia Lanzkron of the Johns Hopkins Sickle Cell Infusion Center who provided insight on the impact of sickle cell infusion outcomes in Md.; Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam; and Dr. Sonja Banks of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. Following the Commission's sickle cell summit, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America kicked-off its 41st annual convention titled “Moving Forward: Advocating for New Discoveries, Advancements and Breakthroughs, "also being held in Anne Arundel County.

The Commission also approved earlier today its four research funding programs for 2014. RFAs include: Investigator-Initiated Grants, Exploratory Grants, Post-Doctoral Fellowships, and Pre-Clinical and Clinical Grants. This funding cycle, all research proposals must pertain to stem cell based therapy and regenerative medicine. Priority will be given to translational and collaborative projects. In addition, the Commission announced the continuance of its partnership with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for the fourth year in a row. Through the program, Maryland researchers have the opportunity for collaboration with CIRM researchers with the goal of advancing critical human stem cell therapies by fostering meritorious interdisciplinary research across geographical boundaries. Details about all funding opportunities can be found at http://www.mscrf.org/content/fundingopps/index.cfm.


Opening Remarks

Dr. Dan Gincel, Executive Director of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF) and

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Secretary, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH)

Research Panel

Moderator - Dr. Linda Resar - Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Robert Brodsky - Johns Hopkins Medicine - Half-matched bone marrow transplantation for sickle cell disease

Dr. Rakhi Naik - Johns Hopkins Medicine - Sickle Cell Disease: A Hypercoagulable State

Mr. Jeffrey Smith - GlycoMimetics, Inc - Innovation Today, Hope for Healing Tomorrow

Treatment & Prevention Panel

Moderator Dr. Laura Herrera - Maryland DHMH

Dr. Debbie Badawi - Maryland DHMH - Newborn Screening and Long Term Follow Up of Sickle Cell Disease in Maryland

Dr. Sophie Lanzkron - Johns Hopkins Medicine - Impact of Sickle Cell Infusion Center on Outcomes in Maryland

Dr. John Strouse - Johns Hopkins Medicine - Preventing Brain Injury in Sickle Cell Disease

Advocacy & Awareness Panel

Moderator Dr. Sonja Banks - SCDAA

Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam - MD House of Delegates

Dr. Carlton Haywood, Jr - The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics - A Patient's Perspective on Advocacy & Awareness in Sickle Cell Disease

Dr. Shawn Bediako - University of Maryland Baltimore County - Advocacy, Awareness, and Activism for Sickle Cell Disease