Focus on Hematology/Oncology

The New England Sickle Cell Institute

The Hematology/Oncology Service has grown from a faculty of four to now eight with more growth expected in the next year. Our Hematology service has gone from 2 to 5 faculty with growing expertise in coagulation (thrombosis and hemostasis), hemoglobinopathies in particular sickle cell anemia, hematologic malignancies, immune cytopenias and bone marrow failure disorders. Close collaboration and partnership with hematopathology in both coagulation and malignant hematology enhance patient care and growing regional expertise. We support many growing programs at the health center including the building of a thoracic oncology, melanoma and neuro-oncology programs. Additionally, we participate in clinical/translational trials with colleagues across both UConn Health and the Storrs campus. Ten nurse practitioners support our program and make it stronger allowing faculty to play significant roles in education and research.

The New England Sickle Cell Institute is our most successful program with proven excellence in research, education and clinical care not only at UConn but also nationally and internationally. It has served as a model throughout the world for the care of this underserved population. Its existence is due to the vision and hard work of Dr. Biree Andemariam. Some accomplishments are:


  • 325 patients (largest in New England); acute and chronic disease management as well as care coordination, mental health services, and multi-disciplinary care for comorbidities
  • Referrals statewide, regional, and national
  • March 2020 established state’s first crizanlizumab infusion program (FDA-approved 11/2019 for VOC frequency reduction)
  • Despite pandemic and temporary physical move x 2, clinic operations maintained including apheresis, transfusion, infusion, and acute pain management
  • Rapid and sustained implementation of telemedicine to maximize safety of this vulnerable patient population


  • 4 therapeutic clinical trials accruing in 2020
    • Leading enrollment site in U.S. for phase2A IMR-687 trial (n=10 subjects); Andemariam global PI
    • Trial endpoints include safety/tolerability, fetal hgb induction, VOC reduction, priapism reduction
    • 3 new trials to open in 2021 including acute inpatient VOC anti-P-selectin monoclonal antibody therapy
  • 3 federally-funded grants (HRSAx2; PCORI)
  • $667,000 research funding in FY 2020 alone


  • 6 peer-reviewed manuscripts in 2020 (includes Blood Adv., Lancet Haematol., British J. Haematol., Ann Hemtol.)

Oral Presentations

  • 8 peer-reviewed oral abstracts national/international meetings; 8 peer-reviewed posters
  • 19 invited national/international presentations


  • State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (PI: Andemariam; UConn Health) Connecticut Sickle Cell Disease Initiative
  • American Society of Hematology (PI: Andemariam; UConn Health) American Society of Hematology Research Collaborative Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Trials Network
  • HRSA 17-078 (PIs: Stewart/Lanzkron; Johns Hopkins University) Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Regional Collaboratives Program
  • PCORI (PIs: Rubin/Smith-Whitley; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) Management of Care Transitions for Emerging Adults with Sickle Cell Disease Care: The COMETS Study


  • Genice T. Nelson, DNP, APRN—Florence Nightingale Award
  • Biree Andemariam—Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc. Chairman’s Award


  • Andemariam invited to present at United States Congressional Hearing on “Current State of Sickle Cell Disease” (October ‘20)
  • Andemariam appointed to United States Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood & Tissue Safety & Availability (August ‘20)
  • Andemariam appointed to prestigious American Society of Hematology Scientific Committee on Red Cell Biology (December ‘20)
  • Nelson and Dr. Andemariam served on national planning committee of 2020 Sickle Cell Disease Assoc. of America Annual Convention and Scientific Symposium (October ‘20)

Dr. Andemariam led an international committee of 33 medical/scientific experts in developing Guidelines for the Management of COVID in Individuals with Sickle Cell Disease. Dr. Nelson served on this committee.