Marilyn Telen is recognized as an expert in the biochemistry and molecular genetics of blood group antigens and the pathophysiological mechanisms of vaso-occlusion in sickle cell disease. She is the director of the Duke Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center and associate medical director of the Duke Hospital Transfusion Service.
Dr. Telen’s laboratory focuses on structure/function analysis of membrane proteins expressed by erythroid cells, especially those that serve as adhesion receptors. The goals of this work are (1) to understand the mechanism and role of red cell adhesion to leukocytes and endothelium in sickle cell disease; (2) to understand the signaling mechanisms leading to activation (and inactivation) of red cell adhesion molecules; (3) to understand the interactions of erythroid membrane proteins with other cells and with extracellular matrix in both normal physiology, after transfusion and in sickle cell disease.
Dr. Telen also conducts a large multicenter study looking for genetic polymorphisms that affect clinical outcomes in sickle cell disease, as well as Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical studies of new treatments for sickle cell disease.
Dr. Telen has lectured extensively on transfusion medicine, genetics and sickle cell disease and has worked in France and Russia. She is currently working with a Duke global health fellow to study the feasibility of screening for thalassemia among migrant workers in Thailand and serves as a monitor for a large clinical study of sickle cell disease in India. She also serves on the advisory board of the Sickle Pan-African Research Consortium (SPARCO) based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, funded by NHLBI.