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Today’s Faces of Sickle Cell Disease: Courtney Fitzhugh, M.D.

Courtney Fitzhugh first became interested in sickle cell disease when she was in college, an interest she continued to pursue throughout medical school. During medical school, she participated in the NIH Clinical Research Training Program, where she studied with Dr. John Tisdale, one of the top researchers in bone marrow transplantation for sickle cell disease. Years later, she returned to NIH as a full-time researcher.

Today, Fitzhugh’s research focuses on half-matched donors, people whose donor stem cells match only about half of the HLA antigens (proteins on the stem cells) of the recipient. The procedure has the potential to greatly expand the pool of sickle cell patients who might benefit from bone marrow transplants. Her work, combined with recent improvements in immunosuppressant medications, allowed half-matched transplant procedures to become more effective.