UT-Dallas to Establish Sickle Cell Research Center
A new research center at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) will focus on finding a cure and better treatments for sickle cell disease, a genetic disorder affecting mostly Blacks.
Dr. Steven Goodman, a nationally recognized sickle cell researcher, will be the director of UTD’s Sickle Cell Disease Research Center. The center, set to open Aug. 1, will collaborate with University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Goodman currently is the director of the USA Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at the University of South Alabama. He says it makes sense to establish a center where there is a large sickle cell population and a group of physicians with an interest and history in treating sickle patients.
Of the nearly 2,000 Dallas-area residents with the disease, about 1,200 are children, says Dr. George Buchanan, professor of pediatrics at the UT-Southwestern Medical Center and director of the sickle cell program at the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
Buchanan says the pediatric program serves about 600 patients, age 18 and under. He says what’s missing in Texas and elsewhere is a coordinated and comprehensive program for adult sickle cell patients.
“Dr. Goodman’s arrival is a big boom and will further opportunities for research in this city,” Buchanan says. “Our clinical program for children badly wanted to connect with a science program. A lot of good is to come of it.”
This fall, the university and medical center will jointly apply for a National Institutes of Health grant worth $1.77 million over five years, beginning in March 2003.
Goodman says 97 percent of sickle cell cases occur in people of African ancestry. The blood disorder causes red blood cells, normally bagel-shaped, to take on a crescent, or sickle shape. The sickle-shaped cells have a difficult time traveling through blood vessels and become trapped, cutting off oxygen to tissues and organs and causing extreme pain in the chest, back and extremities. Exercise, changing altitudes or anxiety can trigger pain attacks.
Goodman, who will also head UTD’s molecular and cell biology department, will continue his existing Alabama research at the new center that has focused on how and why red blood cells become sickle in the first place.
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