U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Molecular Medicine Branch

Alan Neil Schechter, M.D., Chief

​About the Lab/Branch

The Molecular Medicine Branch conducts research on fundamental mechanisms related primarily to the functions and diseases of erythroid cells.

​Current Research

For many years, the primary focus of our research has been on the genetic diseases of hemoglobin, including sickle cell anemia and thalassemia.  More recently, the Branch has broadened its research to include other diseases of the erythroid lineage, as well as a variety of cardiovascular conditions in which regulation of blood flow via NO and other signaling molecules could have important therapeutic consequences.  Most of the work is laboratory-based, but Branch members are also active investigators in multiple clinical protocols.  Such clinical studies are paired with matching laboratory programs and relate to a number of areas, including:  (1) developing biomarkers to predict the severity of sickle cell disease and the etiology of acute and chronic pain as part of this condition, (2) understanding the regulation of fetal hemoglobin expression during development, (3) studying the effects of erythropoietin and other signaling molecules in erythroid cells, and (4) determining the interactions of intracellular and plasma hemoglobin with NO and nitrite ions in physiology and pathology.  The Branch has expanded this final area of research to include analyzing the effects of other molecules (e.g., nitrite) on platelet function and blood flow in the brain.
 
 
The purpose of our research is to develop therapies for one or more human diseases.
 
Our research will help the public by improving medical understanding and therapies.