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Sickle cell disease cure in sights of UAB Stem Cell Institute

Tim Townes has a dream. He has a dream that one day in Alabama, he will see four little girls sitting on the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Townes dreams that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day two years from now, national television news shows will trumpet the story of those girls, healthy and no longer ravaged by sickle cell disease. He dreams of seeing that kind of good news on an important civil rights anniversary – instead of well-worn footage of the Sixteenth Street bombing in 1963 that killed four little girls, or marchers beaten on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“I think Alabamians could really be proud of that and I think would want to work toward that,” says Townes, a Ph.D., director of the UAB Stem Cell Institute and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.