The American Physiological Society Press Release

press release logo

APS Contact: APS Communications Office


Phone: 301.634.7209

Twitter: @APSPhysiology

Sickle Cell Conference to Discuss Causes and Pathways to a Cure

International experts convene to discuss world’s most prevalent single-gene mutation disease

Bethesda, MD (October 31, 2017)—Leading experts in the field of sickle cell disease (SCD) research will convene in Washington, D.C., for the Physiological and Pathophysiological Consequences of Sickle Cell Disease conference (November 6–8). The conference, organized by the American Physiological Society (APS), will explore SCD—the world’s most prevalent single gene mutation disease—and new research on preventing and reversing its deadly consequences.

SCD affects millions of people around the world and more than 100,000 people in the U.S. In recent years, the prognosis of people with SCD has improved, but the only way to cure SCD is through a risky bone marrow transplant. “Currently, there is only one FDA-approved treatment for the disease,” said conference chair Dexter L. Lee, PhD, of Howard University in Washington, D.C. “Researchers across the country and around the globe are making progress in our understanding of the disease and the discovery of new therapies to serve the SCD community.” The goal of the conference is to convene an internationally recognized, interdisciplinary group of investigators to present and discuss current basic and clinical research findings in SCD and to develop new ideas and directions for future research in SCD.

Much of the science presented at the meeting will focus on translational research and new potential therapies, including causes of and treatment for pain, clotting and inflammation, and cell and gene therapy. The abstract-driven program will highlight both established researchers and trainees and early-career investigators giving oral and poster presentations of their work.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Opening Remarks
Harvey Luksenburg, National Institutes of Health; National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Plenary Lecture   
Speaker: Wayne A. I. Frederick, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Symposia I: Neural Circuits and Neurovascular Physiology
Chair: Thomas D. Coates, University of Southern California

Targeting Pain at its Source in Sickle Cell Disease 
Speaker: Kalpna Gupta, University of Minnesota 

Symposia II: SCD Gene Therapy, Gene Editing, and Pharmacological Treatment
Chair: David Williams, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, Mass.

Gene Therapy for Hemoglobinopathies: The Challenge to Find a Cure
Speaker: Giuliana Ferrari, San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, Milan, Italy

Discovery of Pharmacologic Fetal Hemoglobin Inducing Agents for Sickle Cell Disease
Speaker: Betty Pace, Augusta University, Georgia

Symposia III: Cell Therapy
Chair: Betty Pace, Augusta University, Georgia

Control of HbF Silencing: Implications for Genetic and Pharmacologic Induction of HbF for Therapy
Speaker: Stuart Orkin, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

CRISPR/Cas9 Enhanced Sickle Gene Correction in Human and Mouse Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Speaker: Tim Townes, University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Symposia IV: Small Molecules to Treat SCD
Chair: James Douglas Engel, University of Michigan

KEAP1-NRF2 Antioxidant Response System and Sickle Cell Anemia
Speaker: Masayuki Yamamoto, Tohoku University, Japan

Oral Tetrahydrouridine and Decitabine for Non-cytotoxic Epigenetic Modification of Sickle Cell Disease: A Randomized Phase 1/2 Study
Speaker: Yogen Saunthurarajah, Cleveland Clinic

RN-1, an LSD-1 Inhibitor, Induces HbF in the Baboon (P. anubis) and Reduces Mitochondria-containing RBC in a SCD Mouse Model
Speaker: Angela Rivers, University of Illinois, Chicago

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Symposia V: Renal and Vascular Physiology
Chair: Jennifer Pollock, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Sickle Cell Disease: When Endothelin Becomes a Nephrotoxic and Proinflammatory Cytokine
Speaker: Pierre-Louis Tharaux, INSERM U970, Paris, France

Symposia VI: Lung Physiology and Pathophysiology
Chair: Steffen Meiler, Augusta University, Georgia

Speaker: Solomon Ofori-Acquah, University of Pittsburgh

Symposia VII: Red Cell Physiology
Chair: Sergei Nekhai, Howard University, Washington, D.C.  

Developmental Regulation of Erythroid Self-renewal
Speaker: James Palis, University of Rochester Medical Center

Pathobiology of Sickle Red Cells: Implications for Pathophysiology of Sickle Cell Disease
Speaker: Mohandas Narla, New York Blood Center

Symposia VIII: Coagulation and Thrombosis
air: Felicity N. Gavins, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and Rafal Pawlinski, University of North Carolina

De-clotting Sickle Cell Disease
Speaker: Rafal Pawlinski, University of North Carolina

Promoting the Resolution of Inflammation in Sickle Cell Disease
Speaker: Felicity N. Gavins, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The Physiological and Pathophysiological Consequences of Sickle Cell Disease conference will be held in Washington, D.C., November 6–8. Read the full program. To schedule an interview with the conference organizers or presenters, contact the APS Communications Office or call 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



Out of Balance: Gut Bacterial Makeup May Exacerbate Pain in Sickle Cell Disease

Released November 7, 2017 - An overabundance of the bacteria Veillonella in the digestive tract may increase pain in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). Researchers from Howard University will present their findings at the APS Physiological and Pathophysiological Consequences of Sickle Cell Disease conference in Washington, D.C.

Red Blood Cell Function, Renewal the Focus of Sickle Cell Conference Symposium

Released November 8, 2017 - Researchers will meet to discuss the physiology, function and future of red blood cells (RBCs) in sickle cell disease (SCD) at the “Red Cell Physiology” symposium during the APS Physiological and Pathophysiological Consequences of Sickle Cell Disease conference in Washington, D.C.