Navigation Links
Sickle cell disease and its link to race focus of NJIT researcher at NIH event

The history of sickle cell disease in the 20th century and its link to race is the focus of a Nov. 16, 2010 talk at a national symposium by NJIT Associate Professor Stephen Pemberton, PhD, an expert on the history of diseases. Pemberton will speak and join a panel discussion at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, 100th anniversary symposium commemorating the discovery of sickle cell disease by Chicago physician James B. Herrick. The event will be webcast. For more, see Http://

"Herrick's discovery of sickle cell disease was a pivotal moment in medical history," Pemberton said. "It stands as a crucial innovation in Western medicine as well as hematology, one that symbolized the power of microscopic analysis and the laboratory to give evidence to a distinctive form of anemia that physicians had previously failed to see among their African-American patients."

Pemberton, an historian, wrote The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine: Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis and Sickle Cell Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). The book received the science award that same year from the Association of American Publishers. Next year, Johns Hopkins University Press will publish his forthcoming book: The Bleeding Disease: Hemophilia and the Unintended Consequences of Medical Progress.

Pemberton will participate in the symposium's opening panel discussion on historical and cultural perspectives. John Ruffin, director of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, will moderate. Pemberton's talk, "Sickle Cell Anemia and the Vexed Crossroads of Race and Disease in America," will examine health disparities of African Americans over the last century. "African Americans have been at a disadvantage in our healthcare system," he said. "What historians have done is use sickle cell as a lens into the disparities in the treatment of the disease."

Physicians and others believe today that the sickle cell trait is prevalent among people of African descent because the trait developed over time as protection against malaria. The trait is not the disease; it's related to a specific gene. Individuals who inherit it from both parents have a 25 percent chance of developing the disease, a hereditary disorder leading to anemia and treatable by blood transfusions. Affected red blood cells are sickle-shaped, hence the name, and don't carry oxygen efficiently so that patients experience painful crises as their tissues are starved.

Highlights from Pemberton's talk include:

  • As the disease rose to prominence from 1950-1980, it came to embody the pervasive pain and suffering of the African-American community. Many politicians marked investments in research and treatment of sickle cell as a sign of sensitivity to issues of race and cultural difference in America, even where they sought to reduce overall investments in medicine and public health.
  • Despite the attention, the ways that the history of sickle cell disease has been told in the last century have (until recently) largely neglected the patient's changing experience of their illness. Ironically, despite the growing social visibility of the disease in the U.S. over the last century, people with the disease remain a poorly understood, if not neglected,population.


Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Related biology news :

1. Inhaling nitric oxide eases pain crises in sickle cell patients
2. $1.5M grant funds research aimed at reducing strokes in children with sickle cell disease
3. UM researcher identifies novel treatment for pain in sickle cell disease
4. Modulator of fetal hemoglobin switch may target sickle cell disease
5. Vaccines preventing pneumococcal disease protect African children with sickle-cell disease
6. Endothelin receptor may play role in sickle cell pain
7. Gene therapy corrects sickle cell disease in laboratory study
8. Stress takes its toll in Parkinsons disease
9. Symposium in Vietnam to discuss integrated approach to defeating diarrheal disease
10. X-rays offer first detailed look at hotspots for calcium-related disease
11. Motor Neurone Disease Association study identifies MND biomarker
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute ... "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for ... Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers ... --> --> Synthetic ... the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... October 29, 2015 NXTD ... company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover and ... Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for this holiday ... or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... controller solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the ... Huawei. --> --> ... Google to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), ... MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing ... AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or ... Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the ... on November 23, 2015, which will result in ... giving effect to the issuance of such shares, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Creation ... on being named to Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 list of the fastest ... AcceleDent®, a FDA-cleared, Class II medical device that speeds up orthodontic tooth movement ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nev. , Nov. 24, 2015  PDL BioPharma, Inc. ... P. McLaughlin , the company,s president and chief executive officer, ... Healthcare Conference next week in New York City ... occur on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. EST. ... Please connect to the website at least 15 minutes prior ...
Breaking Biology Technology: