BALTIMORE — World renowned genetic and hematologic researcher Dr. Michael DeBaun, will deliver the Charles F. Whitten Lecture at the  39th annual national convention of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Inc.

The meeting is slated for Sept. 27-Oct. 1 in Memphis.

DeBaun is the J.C. Peterson, M.D. Chair in Pediatric Pulmonology and director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease at Vanderbilt University, as well as a professor of Pediatrics and Medicine.

He is also a 2009 inductee into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine.

DeBaun’s research has focused on understanding cerebrovascular injury, or stroke, in children with sickle cell disease and improving management of their care. His work has demonstrated that both size and location of stroke results in specific cognitive loss and poor academic attainment in children with sickle cell disease.

He is also principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health’s Silent Cerebral Infarct Transfusion Trial, an international trial with 25 clinical sites designed to test the hypothesis that blood transfusion therapy will prevent progression of silent strokes when compared to observation.

DeBaun is the principal investigator of a second NIH study and is collaborating nationally and internationally to develop the first longitudinal cohort of children with sickle cell anemia who have been evaluated with repeated pulmonary function tests and sleep studies.

An expert in genetic cancer predisposition syndromes, his work defined the natural history and biological basis of malformation and cancer in Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome as an epigenetic syndrome, related to the expression of DNA through cell division, or phenotype, rather than the structure of DNA itself.

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome can dramatically increase a child’s risk for certain childhood cancers. In 2004, he and a colleague at Johns Hopkins University found the risk of delivering a child with this disease was 10 times higher than expected among parents who used in-vitro fertilization. This evidence, combined with other large studies, has opened world-wide investigations into epigenetic syndromes associated with IVF.

DeBaun received his undergraduate degree from Howard University. He attended Stanford University Medical School, where he received his M.D. and a master’s degree in Health Services Research. After completing residencies at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, he went on to earn a master’s degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene. He  is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed publications

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Photo: Dr. Michael DeBaun