The ultimate goal is to develop better approaches to diagnose, treat, and eventually cure many congenital or acquired disorders of the bone marrow.
Dr. Griffin Rodgers was named Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) on April 1, 2007. His research interests include
- genetic diseases: sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, red cell enzymopathies; clinical evaluation of disease severity; treatment, including pharmacological alteration of gene expression and stem cell transplantation.
- molecular genetics of human hemoglobins; gene expression and differentiation in erythroid cells in normal and perturbed hematopoietic states; pharmacological alteration of gene expression; molecular genetics of myleodysplastic and myleoproliferative syndromes.
- hematopoiesis; role of inducible and stochastic factors; hematopoietic stem cell plasticity; identification of early markers of lineage-specific differentiation.
- the development of novel gene therapy strategies and their targeted application in cord blood hematopoietic stem cells.
As a research investigator, Dr. Rodgers is widely recognized for his contributions to the development of hydroxyurea, the first effective—and now FDA approved—therapy for sickle cell anemia. Research has shown that people with sickle cell anemia who took hydroxyurea at the recommended dose had higher survival rates than those who took less than the recommended dose.
Recently, Dr. Rodgers and his collaborators reported on a modified blood stem-cell transplant regimen that is highly effective in reversing sickle cell disease in adults and associated with relatively low toxicity. These results were replicated in 12 adults with sickle cell anemia who were being treated at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Rodgers continues to perform basic research to understand the molecular basis of how certain drugs induce gamma-globin gene expression. He is also engaged in investigations into targeting the delta-globin gene as an alternate strategy to therapies of the severe beta-globin disorders.
As Chief of the Molecular and Clinical Hematology Branch at the NIDDK, Dr. Rodgers is responsible for planning and conducting basic and clinical research on selected inherited and acquired diseases of human blood. He uses contemporary biochemical, molecular, and physiological techniques; develops and validates models, including cellular and transgenic systems, to permit the delineation of regulatory mechanisms in normal and pathological hematopoesis and to facilitate pharmacological or molecular genetic approaches to correct or compensate for abnormalities associated with disease states; and expedites the translation of novel basic scientific discovery to the appropriate level of preclinical or clinical investigation.
As Chief of the Molecular Hematology Section, Dr. Rodgers plans and conducts research on the molecular and cellular bases of selected congenital and acquired hematological disorders. He develops quantitative methods that are amenable to sequential applications to express disease severity or activity; examines gene expression and the differentiation of erythroid cells in normal and pathological hematopoietic states; studies the molecular basis of lineage-specific differentiation in hematopoietic stem cells; and develops therapies for hemoglobinopathies and other genetic blood disorders based on the modification of target gene expression.