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A local challenge with global reach

London’s diverse population and world-class health infrastructure makes King’s a leading global centre for sickle cell disease research

More people suffer from sickle cell disease than any other inherited blood condition in the world. Despite being the UK’s most common severe inherited disorder, with the number of cases growing rapidly, there is limited understanding of sickle cell disease and few treatment options.

Sickle cell disease is particularly common in people with African or Caribbean heritage, although the sickle gene is found in all ethnic groups. London’s large African and African-Caribbean population means it has one of the greatest concentrations of people living with sickle cell disease in Europe. The majority of UK patients live in south London and southeast England and two of the NHS Foundation Trusts that King’s partners with, through King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, care for around 5,000 of these patients.

The high numbers of sickle cell patients in London, combined with the city’s world-leading healthcare infrastructure, makes King’s Health Partners Haematology Institute one of the most effective global centres for sickle cell research. Working in partnership with patients and connecting the clinical strengths of the NHS with King’s research capability ensures London has unrivalled expertise in the management and care of sickle cell disease.

A research study led by Professor David Rees, Professor of Paediatric Sickle Cell Disease, explored the impact of climate and air quality on children with sickle cell disease. This area is especially important as most patients with the condition live in urban areas.

Professor Rees and his team discovered that high winds are associated with greater than average hospital admissions among children with sickle cell disease. ‘Our research with local communities means that we can not only help patients living in London, we can also translate our findings to help the millions of people throughout the world living with sickle cell disease,’ said Professor Rees.

Over the past 20 years, researchers in London – and at King’s in particular – have published more papers on sickle cell disease breakthroughs than any other city.’– Professor David Rees, Professor of Paediatric Sickle Cell Disease
This globally-relevant research is only made possible by local patient communities who work in partnership with us to co-design studies and help find new ways to treat this too often neglected condition.– Professor Baba Inusa, Paediatric Haematology at King’s College London & Principal Investigator, ARISE* project


Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust | King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust | King’s Health Partners Haematology Institute

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