9 Nonprofits Working in SCD Care Awarded GBT ACCEL Grants

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by Mary Chapman |

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GBT ACCEL grant winner

To improve life for people with sickle cell disease (SCD), Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) has awarded grants worth $50,000 each to nine community-based, nonprofit groups and institutions across the U.S. to speed the development and use of sustainable, access-to-care programs.

These one-year grants are part of GBT’s Access to Excellent Care for Sickle Cell Patients (ACCEL) grant program, now in its third year.

“This year, GBT awarded approximately $450,000 through the ACCEL grant program to fund novel programs that address the inequities people with sickle cell disease face gaining access to high quality healthcare,” Jung E. Choi, GBT’s chief business and strategy officer, said in an emailed statement to Sickle Cell Disease News.

“We are so inspired by this year’s grantees and the programs they have proposed to help the sickle cell community by integrating care delivery, coordinating access to community services, addressing racial equity and increasing COVID-19 vaccine awareness. GBT is proud to support these organizations in our shared mission to improve the lives of people living with sickle cell disease,” added Choi, who also serves as head of patient advocacy and government affairs at GBT.

The program opened in 2019 to fund U.S.-based nonprofit organizations that serve SCD patients, their families, and caregivers, and that seek to improve healthcare access. GBT called for ACCEL proposals in March. This year’s grant recipients span five community-based organizations and four institutions, the company stated in a press release.

Community-based groups awarded grants are the Cayenne Wellness Center in Burbank, for a community outreach model to improve patients’ transition to adult care in rural areas of California; the Sick Cells in Chicago, for its efforts in heightening COVID-19 vaccine awareness among the SCD community nationally; and the Sickle Cell Community Consortium in Cumming, Georgia, for a curriculum that help patients navigate the healthcare system and educates providers about race and healthcare disparities; the Supporters of Families with Sickle Cell Disease (based in Tulsa) – Oklahoma System of SCD Care, which acts as a hub for patients and their families to connect with healthcare and social service resources; and, The Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee for its “Collaborative Conversations” network.

Awarded institutions were Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, for its care model to help patients manage pain by integrating palliative care and community services; the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing in Memphis, for a training program to raise nurse expertise in SCD care; the Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint, Michigan, for its patient navigator outreach model; and, the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis for its educational initiative that focused on emergency care.

“As both a physician who cares for people with sickle cell disease and someone who lives with the disease, I recognize the need to continuously advocate for ways to address the long-standing inequities faced by the sickle cell community,” said Titilope Fasipe, MD, PhD, a member of the ACCEL review committee.

“Now more than ever, we need to support community-based organizations and institutions that play an indispensable role in driving innovative and lasting solutions,” said Fasipe, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “Initiatives like the GBT ACCEL grant program can help provide much-needed support to facilitate meaningful change and help the community recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have so much admiration for the ACCEL grantees and am excited to see the positive impact of their work on the sickle cell disease community.”

Proposals were reviewed by SCD experts both within and outside GBT. Previously, the company’s program awarded up to $250,000 to five SCD community groups.