“Sickle Cell Disease: Advances toward Improved Treatment Strategies using Engineering Approaches”
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a debilitating genetic disorder affecting 70,000 Americans and millions globally that induces chronic inflammation and vascular dysfunction and causes multiple organ damage as a result. The pathophysiology of SCD is quite complex and involves altered interactions between blood cells and endothelial cells lining the vessel walls, altered mechanical properties of blood, blood cells and blood vessels, and altered tissue properties in affected organs. Although the molecular defect associated with aberrant sickle hemoglobin is well understood and the polymerization of sickle hemoglobin and sickling of red blood cells has been extensively studied, effective treatment remains elusive. We apply innovative engineering approaches and technologies to better understand conditions that contribute to vaso-occlusion, a hallmark of the disease, and the relationship between inflammation, vascular remodeling, vascular biomechanical abnormalities and bone tissue abnormalities. Results from these studies will enable the development of new therapies and provide clinicians with therapeutic opportunities for improved management of individuals with SCD.
Gilda Barabino is Dean of The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York. Prior to joining The City College of New York she served as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. At Georgia Tech she also served as the inaugural Vice Provost for Academic Diversity. Prior to her appointments at Georgia Tech and Emory, she rose to the rank of Full Professor of chemical engineering and served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Northeastern University. Her research interests include sickle cell disease, cellular and tissue engineering and diversity in science and engineering. She received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Barabino has an extensive record of leadership and service in the chemical and biomedical engineering communities and currently serves as the President of the Biomedical Engineering Society. She is a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer for 2012-2014 and is the recipient of numerous awards including the BMES Diversity Award, the American Society for Engineering Education/Dow Outstanding Faculty Award, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Minority Affairs Committee Distinguished Service and Eminent Chemical Engineers Awards. Dr. Barabino is a recognized innovator, researcher and consultant on faculty development and on diversity in higher education. She has led a number of initiatives in these areas including serving as the founder and Executive Director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity.