In 1949, the illustrious chemist Linus Pauling published a paper in Science: “Sickle Cell Anemia, a Molecular Disease.” The paper reported that hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein of red blood cells (RBCs), shows distinct physical-chemical properties when isolated from RBCs of subjects with sickle-cell disease (SCD) compared with normal hemoglobin. His work led to the discovery that SCD is caused by the misspelling of a single letter of DNA in both copies of the gene that codes for the beta subunit of hemoglobin.
Our cover story, “Overcoming Sickle-Cell Disease,” tells the story of the Osouna family of Queens, NY. Daughter Aniyah, age 11, and son Tristan, age six, both have SCD. The article describes how research by Einstein and Montefiore scientists is changing that picture so that Aniyah, Tristan and other children with SCD may have better treatment options.
Paul Frenette, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Einstein, has teamed with Deepa Manwani, M.B.B.S., professor of pediatrics at Einstein and director of pediatric hematology at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, to conduct a phase 2 trial of intravenous immunoglobulin for treating SCD pain.
This issue also provides an overview of Einstein’s strong viral research program, which is making strides against some of the world’s major disease-causing viruses. Over just eight months, for example, Einstein scientists led by Kartik Chandran, Ph.D., professor of microbiology & immunology and the Harold and Muriel Block Faculty Scholar in Virology, and Jonathan Lai, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry, published papers describing two promising but quite different approaches to treating all strains of the notorious Ebola virus.
Fittingly, this issue profiles an Einstein alumnus with an illustrious record of global health accomplishment: Sten Vermund, M.D., ’77, who now serves as the dean of the Yale School of Public Health. Looking back on his long relationship with Einstein, Dr. Vermund calls it “a very special place.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Allen M. Spiegel, M.D.
The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Executive Vice President, Chief Academic Officer