Comprehensive Thalassemia Center

UCSF Benioff Children's Comprehensive Thalassemia Center is one of the premier centers in the nation dedicated to the study and treatment of thalassemia. The close collaboration between our hospital and pediatric research institute is one of our unique strengths. Scientists conducting state-of-the-art research work side-by-side with physicians doing clinical investigation and treatment, enabling us to give our patients the best care available, even as we work to discover more effective strategies to prevent, control, and cure thalassemia. The Thalassemia Center at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland is dedicated to developing therapies to treat and cure the 200,000 infants born worldwide each year with sickle cell or thalassemia.

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Why Families Choose Us

Comprehensive Thalassemia Center

  •, Children's Comprehensive Thalassemia Center's website, provides authoritative information on all aspects of thalassemia diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments to patients, physicians, and medical research professionals.
  • The Comprehensive Thalassemia Center is the only thalassemia center funded by the National Institutes of Health that provides access to research therapy, transfusion unit services, BMT services, home Desferal education, and consultation with experts in cardiac, endocrine, liver and nutritional issues.
  • The Center is renowned worldwide for our depth of expertise in the treatment of thalassemia. Families from across the United States and around the world come to Children’s for comprehensive treatment.
  • Early comprehensive treatment has changed thalassemia from a fatal pediatric disease to one in which patients live productive lives throughout adulthood.

Advanced Technology to Diagnose and Treat Pediatric Blood Diseases

  • Children's Hospital Oakland is one of only four facilities in the world with a SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interface Device) that can accurately and non-invasively determine the body’s iron.
  • Children's Comprehensive Thalassemia Center is one of only a handful of hospitals in the nation that uses special software technology (T2*) in combination with a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) machine to safely measure iron levels in a child’s heart. Children and adults with these conditions can suffer from iron overload in the heart and liver.

Life-Saving Research—Medical Breakthroughs & Cures

  • The Center was established in 1991 by Elliott Vichinsky, MD. to diagnose and treat children with blood disorders, cancers, and tumors. Dr. Vichinsky directs North America's largest hemoglobinopathy center for sickle cell disease and thalassemia and has been instrumental in implementing screening programs for blood diseases in newborns in California and around the world.
  • Dr. Vichinsky also works with the World Health Organization to study the worldwide public health problems of thalassemia and sickle cell disease. As both a research scientist and a clinician, he fosters collaboration between physicians and scientists, a partnership that speeds important research findings from the laboratory to the bedside in a process known as translational research.
  • Dr. Vichinsky was responsible for the development of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program, which has cured hundreds of children with sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and various cancers. He has developed techniques that make blood safer for chronically transfused patients, who often suffer iron overload as a result of either transfusion therapy or genetic mutations—a condition that causes thousands of deaths each year. Dr. Vichinsky has been an international leader in developing drugs that remove excess iron as well as non-invasive equipment that measures iron in the body.
  • Dr. Vichinsky has led investigations of novel drugs that turn on hemoglobin-producing genes and enable sickle cell disease and thalassemia patients to produce their own healthy blood. He has authored and co-authored more than 300 articles in peer-reviewed journals, four books, and is editor-in-chief of the journal Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

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