SCDAA Makes New Appointments

Sickle Cell Disease Association names chief medical officer, board chair

HANOVER, Md.—Sickle Cell Disease Association of America named Dr. Lewis Hsu chief medical officer and JaKela Walker chair of the board of directors.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lewis Hsu is a pediatric hematologist who serves as director of the Sickle Cell Center and professor of pediatrics for the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hsu led pediatric sickle cell programs at Emory University, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Children’s National Medical Center. He has conducted sickle cell research, published over 50 peer-reviewed papers and co-authored “Hope and Destiny: The Patient and Parent’s Guide to Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait.” He completed his education at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Board Chair JaKela Walker is senior finance director and controller for DSM, a multinational company specializing in nutrition, health and sustainable living. Previously, she served in finance for DENTSPLY International, Burke Counseling Services and Eli Lilly and Co. Her volunteer work includes serving on boards and committees for the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation, Wings for Success and Tri-State Diversity Council. She studied finance and international business at Howard University.

In addition to Walker, Dr. Biree Andemariam will serve as vice chair, Bernie Lawrence-Watkins as secretary and Thomas Johnson as treasurer on the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America board.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disease causing red blood cells to take a sickle shape, which leads to blockages that prevent blood from reaching parts of the body. As a result, people with sickle cell complications can experience anemia, jaundice, gallstones, stroke, chronic pain, organ damage and premature death. No universal cure exists.

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America advocates for people affected by sickle cell conditions and empowers community-based organizations to maximize quality of life and raise public consciousness while advancing the search for a universal cure. The association and more than 50 member organizations support sickle cell research, public and professional health education and patient and community services. (

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