Raising Awareness and Support for Sickle Cell Disease

Researchers and care providers at VCU Health are global leaders in fighting sickle cell disease and improving the quality of life for those who suffer from the blood disorder. To share some of the latest progress in these areas, the MCV Foundation hosted its second Finding a Cure for Sickle Cell Anemia Together virtual event Dec. 4.

Special guests Wally Smith, M.D., and Florence Neal Cooper Smith delivered remarks and answered questions from attendees.

Dr. Smith, a renowned sickle cell researcher, is the medical director of VCU Health’s Sickle Cell Disease Program, which includes hematologists, internists, nurses, social workers, behavioral health counselors and others. The program helps coordinate care for patients with specialists, helping with patient care and pain management. It also is at the forefront of developing and testing new therapies and drugs to treat sickle cell and its symptoms.

Dr. Smith holds the Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professorship, which is named for a pioneer in screening and counseling for sickle cell disease. Because of Florence Neal Cooper Smith’s efforts, Virginia now screens all newborns at birth for Sickle Cell Disease.

The Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professorship supports aggressive, cutting-edge research to find a cure for sickle cell disease. The FACTS Committee, which stands for Finding a Cure Together for Sickle Cell, worked to organize the December event as part of its outreach to build awareness and support that will help elevate the professorship to an endowed chair. The committee’s goal is to ensure the professorship — and hopefully chair — continues to enable advancements in treatments and research of the disease, reducing the numbers of those who suffer and hopefully even to find a cure.

The Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professorship was established in 2014. To date, supporters have raised $300,000 for the professorship. Help us meet our goal of raising $1 million to establish an endowed chair.

Sickle Cell Disease occurs in 1 in 365 African American births. It appears at infancy and can present anemia, episodes of pain, swelling of hands and feet, frequent infections, and other long-term complications throughout the person’s lifetime. If you are interested in supporting the sickle cell disease care and research at VCU Health, contact Brian Thomas, the MCV Foundation’s vice president and chief development officer, at 804-828-0067.

See below to view the full event.