Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland Hosts International Conference on Sickle Cell Disease
More than 40 Hematologists from Middle East, Latin America
Convene in Oakland at Distinguished Research Institute
October 26, 2011 - Oakland, Calif. – More than two dozen international sickle cell disease leaders from Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States will gather tomorrow at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland for the 3rd annual Advanced Workshop on Sickle Cell Disease, an intensive two-day conference on sickle cell disease. This meeting is part of a global health initiative involving international countries dedicated to addressing sickle cell disease. There are over 300,000 newborns diagnosed every year.
"Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland has been an international, comprehensive sickle cell center since 1973 dedicated to improving the lives of patients, developing new therapies, and educating the international community. There are over 60 clinicians and scientists dedicated to understanding and treating hemoglobin disorders. This international workshop is part of our global partnership with countries throughout the world,” said conference chair Elliott Vichinsky, MD, Children’s Medical Director of Hematology/Oncology and a Principal Investigator at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).
Hematologists from Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey, will participate in the intensive dialogue on research, comprehensive care, and new treatments and therapies, including presentations on stem cell therapy, brain injury, and clinical trials.
“Treating sickle cell disease requires an international collaboration of investigators and clinicians. Through this workshop, we are able to develop new relationships and strengthen existing relationships between Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland and other countries,” said Dr. Vichinsky.
Today, approximately 100,000 people in the United States are living with sickle cell disease. In California, one in every 100 births has sickle cell trait, affecting all ethnic groups, particularly African American and Hispanic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 5 percent of the world’s population carries trait genes for hemoglobin disorders, particularly sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
Sickle cell disease is most commonly found in malaria-infested areas such as the Middle East, Central and Latin America, India, the Mediterranean, and Africa because the single sickle cell gene, known as “trait,” is resistant to malaria. When two trait carriers produce a child, there is a 25 percent chance that the child will have sickle cell disease.
Although formerly considered a childhood disease because of low life expectancy, adults with sickle cell disease are now living into middle age due to advances in research and treatment. Children’s Hospital Oakland has pioneered stem cell transplantation for the cure of sickle cell disease and is piloting several new therapies.
The most common treatment includes the drug hydroxyurea, blood transfusions, and comprehensive care. Even with treatment, children are often hospitalized due to the acute complications associated with the disease. The severity of sickle cell disease varies from person to person, but complications can be life-threatening. Complications include stroke, acute chest syndrome (chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing), pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure), infections, severe pain, renal disease, hip disease, and impaired quality of life.
“Sickle cell disease is truly a global health problem. Coordinating and sharing international efforts through collaborative meetings like this conference will lead to improved care and better treatment children and adults living with sickle cell disease worldwide,” said Dr. Vichinsky.
The Advanced Workshop on Sickle Cell Disease will take place October 27 and 28 at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute at 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland. For more information or to make press arrangements, please contact Erin Goldsmith at 510-428-3069 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland is Northern California’s only independent not-for-profit regional medical center for children. Children’s Hospital Oakland is a national leader in many pediatric specialties and sub-specialties including hematology/oncology, neonatology, cardiology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and neurosurgery. The hospital is one of only two solely designated California Level 1 pediatric trauma centers with the largest pediatric inpatient critical care unit in the region. Children’s Hospital has 190 licensed beds, 201 hospital-based physicians in 30 specialties, more than 2,700 employees, and an annual operating budget of more than $350 million. Children’s is also a premier teaching hospital with an outstanding pediatric residency program and a number of unique pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs. Children’s research program, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is internationally renowned for taking state-of-the-art basic and clinical research and translating it into interventions for treating and preventing human diseases. CHORI has 300 members of its investigative staff, a budget of about $50 million, and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 research centers in National Institutes of Health funding to children’s hospitals. For more information, go to www.childrenshospitaloakland.org and www.chori.org.