10th SCD Therapeutics Conference on Sept. 15 to Focus on Advances

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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The 10th Annual Sickle Cell Disease Therapeutics Conference, to be held virtually Sept. 15, will highlight the most recent medical advances and developing treatment trends in the field of sickle cell disease (SCD).

Taking place during National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the conference will be hosted by the nonprofit Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) and the pharmaceutical Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT).

Open to the public, the conference will be live-streamed from 9 a.m. ET on the conference’s website and on the Sickle Cell Warriors’ Facebook page. With more than 25,000 members, Sickle Cell Warriors says it is “the largest patient-run sickle cell disease advocacy nonprofit in the world.”

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The keynote speaker for the conference is Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Brooks-LaSure, who has decades of experience in the federal government, on Capitol Hill, and in the private sector, served as a policy official and was one of the individuals spearheading the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

The event will include panel discussions from physicians, patients, advocates, and policymakers across the globe, with a particular focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination on the SCD community.

“In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the long-standing inequities faced by the sickle cell community and impacted the daily lives of so many people living with SCD,” Beverley Francis-Gibson, SCDAA’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

“We are privileged to unite leaders from around the world on important and timely topics and create change for the better,” Francis-Gibson said.

“The conference will provide a much-needed forum for the broader SCD community to come together and discuss the urgent needs, latest advancements, and future possibilities as we imagine a better world for people with sickle cell disease,” she added.

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During the conference, GBT will provide an update on the projects awarded an ACCEL grant under its 2021 Access to Excellent Care for Sickle Cell Patients program. The ACCEL program’s goal is to accelerate the delivery of high-quality healthcare to people with SCD.

“Progress in the treatment of sickle cell disease in recent years has provided hope and optimism for the future,” said Kim Smith-Whitley, MD, executive vice president and head of research and development at GBT. “But significant gaps in access to high quality care and other barriers continue to plague this community.”

A detailed schedule of the conference, including its speakers, can be found here. It is scheduled to run through 3:55 p.m. EST. Besides GBT, other pharmaceutical companies developing treatments for SCD that will be present at the conference include Agios Pharmaceuticals, bluebird bio, Forma Therapeutics, and Imara.

“With this annual meeting now in its 10th year, GBT is pleased to once again partner with the SCDAA and Sickle Cell Warriors to make this year’s conference possible — especially given the dramatic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people affected by SCD,” Smith-Whitley said.

“We are inspired to convene such a diverse, passionate group of researchers, clinicians, patients, advocacy leaders, policy makers, industry representatives and others to address the complex challenges this community faces,” she added.