DR. COURTNEY FITZHUGH
[Lasker Clinical Research Scholar of Early Sickle Mortality Prevention]
Dr. Fitzhugh is exploring new avenues of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation for sickle cell disease (SCD), while also studying the currently underexplored cardiovascular complications arising due to this genetic blood disorder. Currently, HSC transplantation offers the only real cure for patients with SCD, though the transplantation procedure can only be applied to select people, and it carries its own set of health risks. One risk is that traditional stem cell transplants involve near total destruction of existing bone marrow, thus severely immunocompromising the transplant recipient. Dr. Fitzhugh and her team have been developing an alternative approach in which the donor and recipient stem cells coexist, potentially reducing the risk for serious infections or other immune complications. Dr. Fitzhugh has demonstrated the efficacy of this non-myeloablative procedure in both mice and human volunteers, and is currently participating in a long-term follow-up study in people to see if they remain free of SCD.
How Sickle Cell Impacts Your Body