Postdoctoral Program

Hemoglobinopathies disproportionately affect minorities in the U.S. and significant portions of the global population, mostly residing in countries with low income.  The Morehouse Training Genomics & Hemoglobinopathies Group (MTGHP), funded by NIH/Fogarty, recruits and trains postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented U.S. minority populations, particularly those affected by hemoglobinopathies, over a period of two or three years.  MTGHP includes international (University of Ghana and Sickle Cell Trust, Jamaica) and local collaborators (Emory University and Medical College of Georgia).

Members of the MTGHP group conduct laboratory, clinical and population-based studies that examine interactions between Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and nutrition, inflammation, vascular biology, susceptibility to infection and possible therapeutic interventions.  Recent studies examined the relationship of resting energy expenditure with inflammation in patients with SCD, (1) allocation of the increased metabolic demand, (2) as well effect of high protein diet on the inflammatory response in SCD mouse models. (3) Determinants of vascular injury are being elucidated, with demonstration, for the first time, of the enhanced vasculogenic potential at steady-state in patients with SCD. (4) These may serve as markers of disease severity. Population based studies examined the nature of increased susceptibility to pathogens, methods of prevention (5) and their possible global impact. In addition to the effect of nutrition, (1-3) other therapeutic modalities explored include stem cell translation modalities (6) and interaction between chronic transfusion iron overload toxicity, inflammation and hemolysis. (7)

With the participation of fellows, the program is currently laying the groundwork for SCD population based screening to determine reliable markers of disease severity in the context of complex and diverse environments, including hitherto seldom examined populations in Tunisia (North Africa) as well as in Ghana (West Africa). In summary, the aim of this program is to cultivate outstanding researchers who will strive to improve care of individuals both burdened by hemoglobinopathies and resource disparities while exploring critical but neglected interactions of human biology that possibly affect large segments of the global population.

  1. Hibbert JM, Hsu LL, Bhathena SJ, et al. Proinflammatory cytokines and the hypermetabolism of children with sickle cell disease. Experimental Biology & Medicine 2005; 230:68-74.

  2. Hibbert JM, Creary MS, Gee BE, Buchanan ID, Quarshie A, Hsu LL. Erythropoiesis and myocardial energy requirements contribute to the hypermetabolism of childhood sickle cell anemia. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition 2006; 43:680-7.

  3. Archer DR, Stiles JK, Newman GW, et al. C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are decreased in transgenic sickle cell mice fed a high protein diet. Journal of Nutrition 2008; 138:1148-52.

  4. Gee BE, Manlove-Simmons JM, Huang Y, Wilson N, Stiles J, Ofori-Acquah S. Dominant Role for SDF-1 in the Vasculo-Angiogenesis Phenotype in Children with Sickle Cell Disease. Blood (ASH Annual Meeting Abstracts) 2008; 112:1432.

  5. Adamkiewicz TV, Silk BJ, Howgate J, et al. Effectiveness of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in children with sickle cell disease in the first decade of life. Pediatrics 2008; 121:562-9.

  6. Adamkiewicz TV, Szabolcs P, Haight A, et al. Unrelated cord blood transplantation in children with sickle cell disease: review of four-center experience. Pediatric Transplantation 2007; 11:641-4.

  7. Adamkiewicz TV, Abboud MR, Paley C, et al. Serum ferritin level changes in children with sickle cell disease on chronic blood transfusion are nonlinear and are associated with iron load and liver injury. Blood. 2009 Nov 19;114(21):4632-8. Epub 2009 Aug 31.

The program is housed in the department of Microbiology Biochemistry & Immunology. The department has a long history of training students (both domestic and foreign) from health disparities/underrepresented minority populations in biomedical sciences through the Ph.D. and M.D. programs. The department maintains research collaborations, capacity building and poverty alleviating links with institutions in developing countries in an effort to reduce health disparities between developed and developing nations.

The program trains two postdoctoral fellows per funding cycle and is conducted in collaboration with the MSM Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and the Master of Clinical Research Programs.