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Today’s Faces of Sickle Cell Disease: Swee Lay Thein, MB, BS, FRCP, FRCPath, DSc

Swee Lay Thein was educated in both Malaysia and the United Kingdom. She has long been interested in studying blood disorders, particularly the clinical and molecular aspects of sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. She served as clinical director of the Red Cell Centre in King’s College Hospital, where she treated a large cohort of adult patients with sickle cell disease. As a laboratory researcher, she developed a strong interest in fetal hemoglobin, the main hemoglobin in fetuses that is responsible for transporting oxygen during fetal life and in infants until they are about 6 months old.

Fetal hemoglobin protects against complications of sickle cell disease by blocking the effects of sickled hemoglobin. Dr. Thein’s research explores the underlying genetic mechanisms affecting the formation of fetal hemoglobin, which could lead to new ways to reduce the severity of sickle cell disease complications, including pain.