Sickle Cell Disease research at The Scarborough Hospital

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When medical lab scientist Ernest Tutu talks about his work and his research, he is animated, excited and obviously passionate.

An employee in the The Scarborough Hospital lab since 2006, Ernest recently completing his Masters Degree with Distinction in biomedical science which included research related to Sickle Cell Disease.

“As part of the Masters program I had to produce original data that contributes to scientific research,” says Ernest. “After my project was approved by the Research Ethics Board at the hospital I was fortunate to receive some funding through the hospital for my research.”

Situated in one of the most diverse communities in Canada, The Scarborough Hospital delivers innovative, high-quality patient care at two hospital campuses and six satellite sites. With a vision of being recognized as Canada’s leader in providing the best healthcare for a global community, The Scarborough hospital is a leader in research, teaching and learning.

Ernest decided to focus his research on Sickle Cell Disease in part because of its complexity. Much of the research that has been done does not compare those with the disease to carriers of the disease.

Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disease that a person inherits from both parents. These people produce abnormal haemoglobin in their red blood cells and experience painful episodes and blood clotting problems.

For his research, Ernest studied the blood profiles of people without the disease, those with the disease and those who are carriers of the sickle cell gene but do not manifest the diseased state. The study investigated the extent of and relationships between inflammation and hypercoagulability and the role each play in Sickle Cell Disease pathophysiology. Fifty-seven volunteers, all of African decent, participated in the voluntary study.

“With further study, these results could have implications for treating the disease,” says Ernest. “This may assist in controlling pain, stopping crises and preventing toxic effects of the disease.”

Originally from Ghana, Ernest obtained a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical science and worked in two labs in teaching hospitals in England before coming to Canada. After completing the licensing process in Canada, he joined The Scarborough Hospital.

“Canada is a great country and I am very happy working here at The Scarborough Hospital,” says Ernest. “I like the core lab here because it is multi-disciplinary. It allows me to practice in different areas.”

Ernest says he also appreciates the hospital’s support for employees wanting to further their studies.

Currently, there are 67 research projects ongoing at The Scarborough Hospital in a variety of areas including cardiology, oncology, gynecology and orthopedics, to name a few.