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By Andrew Aldrich

HANOVER, Md.—The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America just held its 50th annual national convention virtually this year from Tuesday, Oct. 11, through Saturday, Oct. 15. The five-day multidisciplinary convention addressing sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait draws hundreds of health care professionals, patients, families, community-based organizations, leaders and advocates.

The convention this year, “Joining Forces for Our Future,” will be held jointly by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and Sickle Cell in Focus, a conference co-hosted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the University of West Indies.

“We’re thrilled to join with partners all over the world for the 50th annual sickle cell convention,” said Regina Hartfield, president and CEO of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. “The convention will facilitate a crucial exchange of ideas among health care professionals, support families living with sickle cell, strengthen advocacy efforts and move us forward toward a cure.”

Convention speakers and presentations include:

  • NFL player Tevin Coleman and his wife Akilah, who have a daughter with sickle cell, will present “Our Family’s Playbook for Tackling Sickle Cell.” The Colemans will share their story and strategies for caring for a child with sickle cell.
  • Dr. Michael DeBaun is founder and director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease in Nashville, Tennessee. He will deliver the Charles F. Whitten, M.D., Memorial Lecture: “When We Speak, No One Is Listening: Strategies for Individual and Family Advocacy for Better Sickle Cell Disease Medical and Nursing Care.”
  • Janet Ohene-Frempong is a plain language and cross-cultural communications expert with over 25 years of experience in patient-provider communications. She will present the Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, M.D., Memorial Symposium: “Sickle Cell Pain Management: It’s Time to Get It Right – A Mother’s Perspective.”
  • Dr. Charity Oyedeji is a hematologist with the Duke Adult Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center in Durham, North Carolina. She will deliver the Clarice D. Reid, M.D., Lecture: “Aging with Sickle Cell Disease: Is Age Really Just a Number?”

Additional convention events included business and grant meetings, exhibit hall presentations, advocacy lectures, clinical trial updates, educational workshops, medical reports, panel discussions, award presentations and social events. Participants had the opportunity to connect and interact virtually with health care leaders and professionals and gain new relationships, knowledge and resources.

To learn more or access links to virtual presentations by convention speakers, visit

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