Georgia State University Receives $2.7 Million Federal Grant to Improve Blood Transfusion Outcomes

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The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) at Georgia State University has received a five-year, $2,669,903 award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will allow the GHPC and partnering organizations to look at transfusion-related complications in patients with hemoglobin disorders (sickle cell disease and thalassemia) and improve their outcomes.

Thalassemia and sickle cell disease disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, so improvements have the potential to reduce health disparities and resulting inequities,” Branscomb said.

The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) at Georgia State University has received a five-year, $2,669,903 award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will allow the GHPC and partnering organizations to look at transfusion-related complications in patients with hemoglobin disorders (sickle cell disease and thalassemia) and improve their outcomes.

Many individuals with sickle cell disease and thalassemia need periodic or chronic blood transfusions to combat the painful and life-threatening effects of these disorders. The grant will enable medical and social researchers to advance detection and understanding of transfusion-related complications and develop approaches for reducing them.

The GHPC’s Angela Snyder, assistant research professor, and senior research associates Jane Branscomb and Mei Zhou will provide overall coordination, data collection and analysis for the project.

“Thalassemia and sickle cell disease disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, so improvements have the potential to reduce health disparities and resulting inequities,” Branscomb said. “I’m excited about this project because the passionate advocates and clinicians on our team and our CDC sponsors make it clear that the need is urgent and the opportunity is great to significantly reduce suffering and extend life for thousands of people.”

The award will bring together experts in transfusion medicine, hematology, epidemiology and the social sciences from Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Public Health, Grady Health System, Georgia Regents University, Georgia Southern University, the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia and the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, under the guidance of the GHPC, to develop policies and procedures that will improve outcomes for such patients.

Georgia, which has one of the nation’s highest rates of sickle cell disease, also boasts several leading treatment centers and clinical experts. An important aim of this new project is to put health data to work so patients and providers can make better-informed decisions about treatment.

“This is an amazing opportunity to develop a comprehensive program that can positively impact so many,” said Cassandra Josephson, M.D., medical director of the Blood Bank at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. “We have the opportunity to prevent complications and empower patients and families with regard to one of a very few therapies they have available to them, which is blood transfusions.”

Researchers will study the most frequent complications of blood transfusions: alloimmunization, iron overload and infection. They will explore opportunities for effective use of data and health information technology and develop patient and provider educational materials. The work in Georgia will help the CDC to monitor and reduce complications more broadly going forward.

To learn more about the GHPC’s work in sickle cell disease and thalassemia visit: http://www.ghpc.gsu.edu/phresh.

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About the Georgia Health Policy Center
The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC), housed within the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, integrates research, policy and programs to advance health and well-being. Celebrating 20 years in 2015, the GHPC focuses on solutions to the most complex issues facing health and health care, including insurance coverage, health care reform, behavioral health and the development of rural and urban health systems. Visit http://www.ghpc.gsu.edu to learn more.

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Leah Seupersad
Georgia State University
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