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LaTasha H. Lee, PhD, MPH: Advocating for Health Equity, Advancing Sickle Cell Disease Research

About this episode:

LaTasha Lee, PhD, MPH’s path to becoming a sickle cell disease (SCD) researcher and policy advocate began as a child. Because the SCD trait ran in her family, she became a patient advocate while still small. Today, she is Vice President, Social and Clinical Research & Development, at the National Minority Quality Forum. In this wide-ranging interview, she touches on an array of issues affecting the SCD community. Among them: adult patients who end up in the emergency room, the increased number of available therapeutics and the robust pipeline of SCD therapies.

Of particular concern is the challenge of accessing pain medication — both in the ER and in primary care practices. “Individuals with this disease often aren’t believed. They are considered drug seekers when they aren’t.”

She also makes a passionate call for increased minority participation in healthcare and in research to enhance equity and improve outcomes.

Dr. Lee is responsible for the oversight and implementation of research projects and programs focused on reducing patient risk and identifying optimal care to reduce health disparities and bring about health equity at the National Minority Quality Forum. Before that, she served as Senior Manager of Partnership Engagement of the Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Trials Network (SCD CTN) at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Research Collaborative. She was responsible for establishing, implementing and maintaining effective partnerships with stakeholders including patients, academic medical centers, other clinical research sites, industry, and federal agencies regarding their interests in SCD CTN. As an experienced research manager at ASH she was tasked with the development of a patient engagement strategy and clinical trials network for SCD. While at ASH, Dr. Lee was also responsible for the day-to-day management and implementation of projects, programs and activities related to ASH’s Call to Action on Sickle Cell Disease.