Her story: Alexis Thompson has treated patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) for more than two decades and has collaborated on numerous clinical trials leading to landmark findings in the field. Through her advocacy, she has increased awareness of SCD and sickle cell trait on Capitol Hill and worked to increase funding for research on the disease. As president-elect of the American Society of Hematology, Thompson helped to develop a comprehensive report on the current state of clinical care for SCD in an effort to identify unmet medical needs. She is also leading an effort to examine the feasibility of newborn screening and early intervention efforts in sub-Saharan Africa, where the burden of SCD is profound.
Biggest challenge: “There’s so much work to be done, and quite frankly, all of it needs to be done. The biggest challenge is prioritizing. One major hurdle is to really try to understand how we can work with partners to improve outcomes for patients, especially when they seek emergency care.”
Her motivator: “I have tremendous optimism that we will find better ways to treat sickle cell disease, and hopefully cure even more patients. This is an amazing time where we’re seeing some phenomenal opportunities to make a major impact on this disease, but there’s a certain amount of urgency to make sure we can take advantage of these opportunities to make progress on this condition worldwide for well into the future.”
What she wants people to know: “I hope that the larger audience will become increasingly aware of how much progress still needs to be made in sickle cell disease. To not make progress is really a failure for us as a broader, American society. We have the capacity to improve the quality and the length of patients’ lives and actually impact this condition around the globe through research and greater access to high-quality medical care. I envision a future where we all benefit from having more sickle cell patients who look forward to longer, healthier lives. Many of us have roles that we can play in ensuring that the focus remains on improving outcomes for patients with this very challenging condition.”