An Introduction to Vivien Sheehan

         August 6, 2015

Last month our webcast featured the third place winner of our Annual Abstract Challenge, Dr. Raluca Mateescu, and August’s webcast will feature co-winner, Dr. Vivien Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan’s submission last winter surrounded the pharmacogenomics of hydroxyurea in sickle cell anemia, and we are excited to have her present this research for our Golden Helix community next week (August 12th, register here!). As an introduction to the webcast, here is some background on Dr. Sheehan and her research.

Dr. Vivien Sheehan is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine and a part of the Cancer and Hematology Center at Texas Children’s. Sheehan specializes in sickle cell disease and her projects range from clinical and translational research to basic science studies. Her current translational research project uses whole exome sequencing to study the pharmacogenomics of hydroxyurea. Currently, hydroxyurea is the only drug treatment for sickle cell disease. Some of her clinical projects include investigations into the effects of hydroxyurea on red cell rheology, including oxygen carrying capacity and red cell density. The investigations are the foundation of a clinical trial studying their effectiveness as a treatment for Hemoglobin SC disease.

In addition to her research, Dr. Sheehan is developing a transition clinic to help their young adult hemoglobinopathies patients move from pediatric to adult hematology care successfully. Patients age 18 to 26 have an especially difficult time, and loss of specialized care is often the cause of increased mortality and morbidity rates. Having support through the transition is critical for this vulnerable population, and Dr. Sheehan is attempting to develop a clinic where the process is seamless.

Last December, Dr. Sheehan was one of the recipients of The American Society of Hematology 2015 Scholar Awards. This award provides much needed resources to hematologists to support their research in the field. As is evident from the brief descriptions of Sheehan’s research above, she is a deserving awardee and will put the resources earned to good use.

In her upcoming webinar, Dr. Sheehan will discuss how her team attempted to gain a better understanding of gamma-globin regulation in an effort to discover and design a specific gamma-globin inducing agent. They investigated the natural human variation and its correlation with HbF levels to identify novel genes important for gamma-globin regulation. Over the course of the study, they discovered an association between FOXO3 and baseline HBF in sickle cell patients, suggesting that FOXO3 is a positive regulator of gamma-globin.To learn more about FOXO3 as a potential treatment for sickle cell disease, register for our webinar here!

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