Sickle Cell Disease Management and Cure is Topic of Maya Angelou Research Center

October 22, 2004

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health Fall Lecture will focus on the management and treatment of sickle cell disease Thursday, Oct. 28 at 8 a.m. in the Nutrition Education Wing. Health and science reporters are encouraged to attend.

Distinguished visiting professor Samir Ballas, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University Medical College and director of the Cardeza Sickle Cell Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Penn., will give a lecture on the management of acute sickle cell pain.

“We are conducting research that will improve the quality of life for patients with sickle cell disease,” said Ballas. “Further, we are investigating treatments such as bone marrow transplants and other therapies that will enable us to cure sickle cell disease.”

Ballas will discuss sickle cell treatments and research on Friday, Oct. 29 at noon in Room 1064 of the Hanes Building. He will present his findings at the Molecular Medicine Graduate Program Research Seminar. Health and science reporters are encouraged to attend this talk as well.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition in which the red blood cells, normally disc-shaped, become crescent shaped. As a result, they function abnormally and cause small blood clots. These clots give rise to recurrent painful episodes called "sickle cell pain crises."

These painful crises, which occur in almost all patients at some point in their lives, can last hours to days, affecting the bones of the back, the legs, fingers and the chest. Some patients have one episode every few years, while others have many episodes per year. The crises can be severe enough to require admission to the hospital for pain control and intravenous fluids.

The Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health was established to close the gap in health, quality of life, and lifespan differences between minority populations and the general population. It is a collaboration between Wake Forest University, its medical school, Winston-Salem State University, and Forsyth County.

The center’s focus includes advancing research on health issues affecting minorities, developing health care approaches based on research findings, promoting medical career development among underrepresented minorities, and providing outreach programs and national symposia to promote these objectives.


Media Contacts: Jim Steele,, Shannon Koontz,, or Karen Richardson,, at 336-716-4587.

About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,282 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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