The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announces the NHLBI “Hope for Sickle Cell Disease Challenge” to help increase awareness about sickle cell disease and its associated complications.
Sickle cell disease (SCD), also known as sickle cell anemia, is the most common genetic disorder in the United States (1). About 100,000 Americans are thought to be living with SCD and each year another 1,000 babies are born with it (2).
A specific single mutation in the gene for hemoglobin, when inherited from both parents, causes SCD. The hemoglobin in people living with SCD distorts the shape of the red blood cell into a ‘sickle’ or crescent moon shape that flows poorly through small blood vessels. This can cause problems in virtually any organ by reducing the delivery of oxygen and inflaming the surrounding tissue. The organ damage caused by SCD can result in strokes in the brain, kidney damage, or complications in other organs. SCD also causes significant pain in the affected tissues. This pain, which can begin in childhood, often escalates as people age, severely affecting the quality of life of individuals with SCD (3,4,5). SCD affects the quality of life for those living with it, and the lives of their families and caregivers. They may experience psychological stress, financial problems, medication management pressures (e.g., administering daily medications and managing pain episodes through behavior or lifestyle changes), and conflicts between job obligations and medical appointments because of the unpredictable nature of SCD and its associated complications (6).
A lack of awareness about SCD and its associated complications among the public and affected communities (7,8) can contribute to stigmas associated with SCD, a lack of understanding of how the disease affects individuals and families, and to less than optimal care experienced by many patients (9).
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Total Cash Prize Pool
- 1st Prize – $25,000
- 2nd Prize – $15,000
- 3rd Prize – $10,000
The NHLBI will announce the results of the competition and publicly display the winning Tools.