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Sickle Cell Experts and Information for Media

St. Jude hematologists have been researching sickle cell disease since the hospital opened in 1962. The institution’s first research grant was to study sickle cell disease, and St. Jude is where the first patient with both leukemia and sickle cell disease was cured of both diseases by a stem cell transplant. Today, St. Jude treats more than 900 children with sickle cell disease annually. When patients become old enough to require adult care, the St. Jude-Methodist Sickle Cell Transition Clinic helps them learn how to access care as an adult and prepares them for the transition through counseling on peer relationships, nutrition, stroke risk and other disease complications.

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Sickle Cell and other nonmalignant blood disorder experts

  • Yvonne Carroll, JD, RN

    Yvonne Carroll, JD, RN, St. Jude Department of Hematology, Patient Services director, is a principal investigator and program manager for the sickle cell disease program. She has facilitated the continuity of care for young adults with sickle cell disease by improving the transition from pediatric to adult medical care through developing a skills lab, a transition readiness assessment and transition educational material. These efforts have improved successful transition rates to more than 95%.

  • Ellis J. Neufeld, MD, PhD

    Executive Vice President Ellis Neufeld, MD, PhD, St. Jude Physician-in-Chief and Clinical Director, oversees academic clinical departments and all clinical operations. He is an experienced clinical and translational investigator and an internationally respected pediatric hematology leader. Neufeld’s clinical and research interests center on nonmalignant hematology, including immune thrombocytopenia, thalassemia, transfusional iron overload, hemophilia and thrombosis. His work also includes the development of gene therapy treatments for hemophilia patients.

  • Yogindra Persaud, MD

    Yogindra Persaud, MD, St. Jude Department of Hematology, specializes treating pediatric patients with sickle cell disease. He currently focuses on developing hospital protocols to improve acute pain plans for pediatric sickle cell patients to decrease the use of opioid pain medication. Persaud recently completed a clinical trial examining the hesitancy of sickle cell patients in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and how to bridge gaps between the health care community and the patients they serve. He is also a member of the hospitalist service at St. Jude.

  • Jerlym S. Porter, PhD, MPH

    Jerlym Porter, PhD, MPH, St. Jude Department of Psychology and Biobehavioral Sciences, has centered her work and research on improving the quality of life for young people with sickle cell disease. In particular, she is interested in issues relevant to the transition to adult care. Central to her work is the St. Jude-Methodist Sickle Cell Disease Transition Clinic, which helps St. Jude sickle cell patients learn how to handle their own care. Porter also researches psychosocial factors impacting health promotion, treatment adherence and disease management.

  • Akshay Sharma, MBBS

    Akshay Sharma, MD, St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, coordinates the bone marrow transplantation program for patients with sickle cell disease. Sharma is leading clinical research using gene editing, sometimes referred to as CRISPR therapeutics, for treating sickle cell disease. Gene editing for treating human disease is pushing the boundaries of science in healthcare. Sharma is also interested in the development of novel reduced-intensity and non-myeloablative conditioning regimens to improve sickle cell care.

  • Cliff Takemoto, MD

    Cliff Takemoto, MD, St. Jude Department of Hematology, Division of Clinical Hematology director oversees clinical research and provides comprehensive treatment and care for children and adolescents with non-malignant hematological disorders. Takemoto’s research interests include hemostasis and thrombosis, vascular malformations and bone marrow failure.

  • Mitchell Weiss, MD, PhD

    Mitchell Weiss, MD, PhD, St. Jude Department of Hematology chair, is a leading researcher on the biology of blood cell formation, non-malignant blood diseases and their treatments. His research interests include gene expression mechanisms during blood cell development, non-coding RNAs in red blood cell formation and hemoglobin structure and biology. At St Jude, Weiss has been investigating gene editing approaches for treating sickle cell disease.