The University of Pittsburgh has announced the addition of two Black scholars to its Sickle Cell Disease Program. Sickle cell disease causes the body to produce red blood cells that resemble the curved blade of a sickle. These cells hinder blood flow and reduce oxygen flow to the body. While people of any race can have the sickle-cell trait, the disease is far more common among African Americans than it is among Whites. About one in every 400 African Americans is born with the sickle-cell trait.
Laura M. DeCastro was named co-director of adult sickle cell programs at the university. She will serve as director of benign hematology for the university’s Institute for Transfusion Medicine and director of clinical translational research for the Sickle Cell Disease Research Center of Excellence. She was an associate professor of hematology at Duke University.
Dr. DeCastro earned her medical degree at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Solomon Ofori-Acquah will be the director of the Center for Translational and International Hematology. The center will conduct research and manage partnership programs with sickle cell disease efforts in Africa.
Dr. Ofori-Acquah was an assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta and was the founding director of the university’s Center for Endothelial Biology. A native of Ghana, holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the University of London.