Kenneth Ataga, MBBS

Classical Hematology, Sickle Cell Disease, Hemoglobinopathies, Thalassemia

Kenneth Ataga, MBBS

Professor of Medicine
Director - Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program

170 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7305

Clinical Profile

Area of interest

My clinical interest is in classical hematology and hemoglobinopathies. I am the director of the UNC Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program. My clinical research is focused on the vasculopathy of sickle cell disease, with an emphasis on pulmonary hypertension and renal complications, and coagulation activation in sickle cell disease. In addition, I have a strong research interest in the development of new therapies for sickle cell disease. I conduct clinical trials in sickle cell disease funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Pharmaceutical Industry. 


MBBS: University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria 1990; Rotating Internship: University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria 1991; Intern/Resident: Upstate Medical University (formerly SUNY Health Science Center), Syracuse, NY, 1994-1997; Hematology/Oncology Fellow: University of North Carolina, 1997-2000; Instructor: University of North Carolina, 2000-2002; Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina, 2002-2008; Director, UNC Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program: 2008-present; Associate Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina: 2008-2015; Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina: 2015-present.

Awards and Honors:

2015 - present      Consulting Editor, JCI Insight

2013 -  present     Member, North Carolina Council on Sickle Cell Syndrome

2013 - present      Member, Research Advisory Committee - The Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease Research

2012-2013            Member, Executive Committee, Annual Sickle Cell Disease Research and Educational  Symposium

3/2008 - present  Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Expert Review of Hematology

2011 - present       Membership (elected), American Society for Clinical Investigation

2009-2011             Executive Committee, Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Research Network

1/2006 - 3/2007   Co-Chair, Multi-Center Study of Hydroxyurea (MSH) Patients and Safety Monitoring Follow-Up

2005                       Almita Woods Award, for “exceptional leadership and outstanding service to the citizens of North  Carolina,” North Carolina Council on Sickle Cell Syndrome and Related Genetic Disorders         

Selected bibliography

Desai PC, Deal AM, Pfaff ER, Qaqish B, Hebden LM, Park Y, Ataga KI. Alloimmunization is Associated with Older Age of Transfused Red Blood Cells in Sickle Cell Disease. Am J Hematol, 2015 (Epub ahead of print).

Caughey MC, Poole C, Ataga KI, Hinderliter AL. Estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure and sickle cell disease: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Br J Haematol, 2015 Apr 9 (Epub ahead of print).

Elmariah H, Garrett ME, De Castro LM, Jonassaint J, Ataga KI, Eckman J, Ashley-Koch AE, Telen MJ. Factors Associated with Survival in a Contemporary Adult Sickle Cell Disease Cohort. Am J Hematol. 2014 Jan 30 (Epub ahead of print).

Whelihan MF, Mooberry MJ, Zachary V, Bradford RL, Ataga KI, Mann KG, Key NS. The contribution of red blood cells to thrombin generation in sickle cell disease: meizothrombin generation on sickled red blood cells. J Thromb Haemost. 2013 Dec;11(12):2187-9.

Laurin LP, Nachman PH, Desai PC, Ataga KI, Derebail VK. Hydroxyurea is associated with lower prevalence of albuminuria in adults with sickle cell disease. Nephrol Dial Transplant, 2013 Sep 30 (Epub ahead of print). 

Desai PC, Brittain JE, Jones SK, McDonald A, Wilson DR, Dominik R, Key NS, Parise LV, Ataga KI. A pilot study of eptifibatide for treatment of acute pain episodes in sickle cell disease. Thromb Res, 2013 Sep; 132:341-345.

Desai PC, May RC, Jones SK, Strayhorn D, Caughey M, Hinderliter A, Ataga KI. Longitudinal study of echocardiography-derived tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity in sickle cell disease. Br J Haematol, 2013 Sep; 162:836-841.

Kutlar A, Ataga KI, McMahon L, Howard J, Galacteros F, Hagar W, Vichinsky E, Cheung ATW, Matsui N, Embury SH. A potent oral P-selectin blocking agent improves microcirculatory blood flow and a marker of endothelial cell injury in patients with sickle cell disease. Am J Hematol, 2012 May; 87:536-539.

Ataga KI, Brittain JE, Desai P, May R, et al. Association of Coagulation Activation with Clinical Complications in Sickle Cell Disease. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7:e29786.

Ataga KI, Reid M, Ballas SK, Yasin Z, et al. Improvements in Hemolysis and Indicators of Erythrocyte Survival Do Not Correlate With Acute Vaso-Occlusive Crises in Patients With Sickle Cell Disease: A Phase III Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study of the Gardos Channel Blocker Senicapoc (ICA-17043). Br J Haematol, 2011 Apr; 153:92-104.

Ataga KI, Brittain JE, Jones S, May R, et al. Association of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 with Pulmonary Hypertension and Hemolysis in Sickle Cell Disease. Br J Haematol, 2011 Feb; 152:485-491.

Ataga KI, Brittain JE, Moore D, Jones SK, Hulkower B, Strayhorn D, et al. Urinary albumin excretion is associated with pulmonary hypertension in sickle cell disease: Potential role for soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1. Eur J Haematol, 2010 Sep; 85:257-263.

Ataga KI, Smith W, DeCastro L, Swerdlow P, et al. Efficacy and Safety of the Gardos Channel blocker, Senicapoc (ICA-17043), in Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia. Blood, 2008 Apr; 111:3991-3997.

Ataga KI, Moore CG, Hillery CA, Jones S, et al. Coagulation Activation and Inflammation in Sickle Cell Disease-Associated Pulmonary Hypertension. Haematologica, 2008 Jan; 93:20-26.

Lee SP*, Ataga KI*, Zayed, M, Manganello, JM, Orringer EP, Phillips DR, Parise LV. A Phase I, Open-Label Study to Assess the Safety and Pharmacodynamics of Eptifibatide in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Br J Haematol, 2007 Nov; 139:612-620.

Link to Publications on Reach NC site