Julie Kanter, MD

Julie Kanter, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine; Co-Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at UAB

Dr. Julie Kanter is a lifespan hematologist specializing in sickle cell disease. She recently moved to Alabama and is the director of the adult sickle cell disease program and co-director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center with Dr. Jeffrey Lebensburger. Prior to moving to Alabama, Dr. Kanter was the Director of sickle cell disease research and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Kanter is very committed to improving outcomes in sickle cell disease and ensuring those outcomes reach the affected individuals. She works closely with national partners including the American Society of Hematology and the NIH on both advocacy and research.

In 2016, Dr. Kanter and her team were awarded one of eight of the NHLBI sickle cell disease implementation grants to form a sickle cell implementation center. Dr. Kanter is also principle investigator of the DISPLACE R01, her multi-center project to assess and improve implementation of stroke screening in patients with sickle cell disease. While in South Carolina, Dr. Kanter served as the principle investigator for over ten clinical research trials and was a leading enroller on several of those projects. Dr. Kanter also developed and ran a statewide program for sickle cell disease, a program she continues to advise. She plans to develop a similar model of access to care for adults with sickle cell disease in Alabama using the Clinical Research sites which are also pediatric clinics.

Dr. Kanter has authored and co-authored more than 50 articles, book chapters, and abstracts and hopes to train upcoming physicians and providers in SCD to expand the workforce for treating affected individuals.

Jeffrey Lebensburger, DO, MSPH

Jeffrey Lebensburger, DO, MSPH

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Pediatric Hematology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Co-Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at UAB

Dr. Lebensburger co-directs the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center with Dr. Julie Kanter. Over the last nine years at UAB, Dr. Lebensburger has developed expertise in sickle cell nephropathy and sickle cell clinical trials, publishing 43 manuscripts including 32 as the primary or senior author. He has demonstrated expertise in sickle cell nephropathy research through his Chronobiology and Chronopharmacology to Prevent Sickle Cell Nephropathy study, funded by his NIH K23 American Society of Hematology Scholar award. He also studies acute kidney injury during sickle cell crisis supported by an NIH R03 grant and Pfizer ASPIRE award. He served as the site PI for the NIH funded clinical trials of hydroxyurea including the Baby HUG Follow-up II study and Hydroxyurea to Prevent CNS Complications of Sickle Cell Disease in Children trial.

He has worked on industry studies including as site PI for the Phase 3, Open-Label, Single-Arm Trial Evaluating the Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of 13-valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in Children with Sickle Cell Disease Previously Immunized with 23-valent Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine study. Finally, he works extensively to mentor young investigators - 31 mentees in last nine years, several with career development awards - and was elected to serve as the incoming-co Director for the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute.

Thomas Howard MD, PhD

Thomas Howard MD, PhD

Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Howard built the one of the original “hub and spoke” models of care between the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at UAB and the Children and Youth Sickle Network™. The CYSN™ is a network of regional comprehensive sickle cell disease clinics that are within driving distance UAB. The outcomes produced through this Network have been remarkable. Stroke incidence and mortality have been reduced by 90 percent, even in the most rural of counties. Patient and family knowledge have increased through educational programs. And coordination of care between primary care providers and academic hematologists has improved.

In addition to the CYSN, Dr. Howard has fostered collaboration between UAB and the community-based organizations in Alabama. There are seven such organizations in Madison, Jefferson, Etowah, Tuscaloosa, Macon, Montgomery, Selma and Mobile counties. Dr. Howard has participated in every major sickle cell disease project since 1988, and he continues to operate an outreach clinic at UAB Montgomery.

Lee Hilliard, MD

Lee Hilliard, MD

Professor of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology in at UAB

Dr. Hilliard has been caring for children with sickle cell disease for more than 20 years. She has participated in innumerable clinical research projects, excels in both compassionate care and clinical trial recruitment and has been working with UAB and the CSYN. A clinical and research specialist, Dr. Hilliard has served as co-PI on a multitude of clinical research projects and leads the outreach for SCD at Children’s of Alabama. Dr. Hilliard will serve as the Southeastern Regional Hospital (Opelika) CRS PI or this project.

Brandi Pernell DNP, CRNP

Brandi Pernell DNP, CRNP

Assistant Professor

Pernell has seven years of experience caring for children and adolescents with sickle cell disease. Her research is focused on the social determinants of sickle cell and lung disease health. She is presently investigating Adverse Childhood Experiences in Sickle Cell Disease and behavioral mechanisms for fostering resilience in order to improve health behaviors and outcomes in this high-risk population. She has participated extensively in the HRSA SCDTDP and is experienced in clinical investigation. Dr. Pernell leads the outreach efforts at University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and will serve as the CRS PI for them.

Foluso Joy Ogunsile, MD

Foluso Joy Ogunsile, MD

Assistant Professor

Ogunsile joins UAB from Johns Hopkins University, where she completed her fellowship in Hematology. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke, then served as a Research Assistant at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She received her M.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics from Vanderbilt University Hospital. Her clinical interests are in the care of patients with sickle cell disease and non-malignant hematological disorders.

Rachel Klein, MD

Rachel Klein, MD

Assistant Professor

Rachel J. Klein, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. Dr. Klein completed her combined internal medicine/pediatric residency at the University of California-Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Klein joins UAB with dual appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics. She will provide primary care in both departments, teaching residents in the UAB Pediatric Primary Care Clinic in pediatrics and providing primary care to adolescents and adults within the Lifespan Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center in medicine. Her research/clinical interests include preventative care, quality improvement and transition care.

JaLesa Long, DNP, CRNP

JaLesa Long, DNP, CRNP

JaLesa S. Long, DNP, CRNP earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). She continued her education at The University of South Alabama to receive her Master of Science in Nursing as an Adult Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and then furthered her education by earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree after successful implementation of a quality improvement project. Dr. Long’s clinical interest include providing care for patients with sickle cell disease and quality improvement.