This is a special seminar by Michael Friend in memory of Shakir Cannon, sickle cell patient advocate and leading voice in discussions on CRISPR, precision medicine, and social justice. Local attendees are invited to stay for a reception and light refreshments following the talk. Watch below for a recording of the event.
Despite being the first “molecular disease” ever discovered and the most common genetic disease in the US, sickle cell disease (SCD) has no universal cure. This truly devastating disease predominantly affects people from African descent, who are long under- and unequally-served by the medical and research communities. SCD is getting renewed attention as CRISPR researchers set their sights on finally curing this disease at the DNA level using genome editing.
In this special seminar, Michael Friend discusses this forgotten disease, his relationship with SCD advocate Shakir Cannon, and how the scientific and minority communities can move forward together. The work of Michael and Shakir has helped bridge minority communities and medical researchers to create a dialogue surrounding the promise of precision medicine and genome editing.
Michael Friend Biography
Michael Anthony Friend was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and is a veteran of the Armed Forces. In 2011 he founded the Health Ministries Network (HMN) and co-founded the Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine (MCPM) together with sickle cell patient advocate, Shakir Cannon. Michael’s Health Ministries Network aims to bridge the gap between medical science researchers and minority groups by connecting national leaders of African-American Churches with leading scientists to begin to build relationships. Michael’s journey in precision medicine awareness led him to participate in White House briefings and launchings under the Obama Administration, including the launch of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. Along with his co-founder, Shakir Cannon, Michael has been an invited speaker at a number of high profile events central in the discussion of the ethics and promise of CRISPR gene editing. Notably, MCPM, in partnership with Harvard’s Personal Genetics Education Project (pgEd), was featured in a series of events by the Science & Entertainment Exchange of the National Academy of Sciences on the ethics of CRISPR, and was invited to lead a breakout session on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the CRISPR debate this past summer at CRISPRcon in Berkeley, CA.
Despite the devastating loss of his friend and cofounder, Shakir Cannon, to sickle cell disease, Michael is determined to continue the work they started together. Toward this, Michael’s current role on the CRISPRcon steering committee, and recent HMN event at Caribou Biosciences will help to develop strong and broad footprints in the targeted minority communities by facilitating seamless interaction with community focused groups such as churches and religious organizations that have long-standing history and trust in these community