RICHARDSON, Texas (April 7, 2005) —The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) will join with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Greater Montgomery (Ala.) to hold a conference for medical professionals on sickle cell disease April 29 at Tuskegee University, an historically black institution of higher learning in Alabama.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disease that can cause serious health problems – some leading to death – among victims, most of whom are African-American or other individuals of African descent. It is estimated that eight percent of African-Americans are carriers of the sickle cell gene and are said to have sickle cell trait. Approximately two out of every 1,000 African-Americans suffer from the disease.
The goals of the conference, which will be held in the university’s Kellogg Conference Center and will be transmitted by video to other parts of Alabama, are to bridge the communications gap that often exists among sickle cell researchers, providers, patients and their families as well as to find practical solutions for the management of pain, to ensure that patients have the support of both family and caregivers and to disseminate clinical and psychological information to patients more effectively.
People with sickle cell disease have a genetic error in their hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells. Instead of being soft and round, the red blood cells of a sickle cell patient are inflexible and sickle-shaped, causing blockages in the blood vessels and preventing body tissues from receiving oxygen.
Dr. Betty Pace, director of the Sickle Cell Disease Research Center at UTD, will open the conference with a lecture on the influence of parents in determining health care for adolescents with sickle cell disease.
The keynote speaker for the conference will be Dr. Willarda Edwards, president and chief operating officer for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, which has its national headquarters in Baltimore. She will discuss the importance of reaching out to develop partnerships among researchers, providers and the community when caring for patients with the disease.
UTD’s Sickle Cell Disease Research Center was founded in 2001. A year later, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and UTD won a multi-million-dollar grant that enabled the establishment of the first National Institutes of Health sickle cell center in the Southwest at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
Anyone interested in attending the one-day conference in Alabama should contact the UTD Sickle Cell Disease Research Center at 972-883-6230.
About the Sickle Cell Foundation of Greater Montgomery
The Sickle Cell Foundation of Greater Montgomery, Inc., was founded as a non-profit organization in 1981. The philosophy of the foundation is to eliminate sickle cell disease as a health problem through professional standards of administrative, health, public relations and fundraising means. The foundation provides services in nine Southeast Alabama counties.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.