Kenneth I. Ataga, MBBS
Photo: Kenneth Ataga



Elected 2011
Kenneth I. Ataga received his medical degree from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria in 1990. Following a 1-year rotating internship at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, he completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse, NY, and a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill under the mentorship of Dr. Eugene Orringer. He is presently an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the University of North Carolina Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program. Dr. Ataga’s clinical research has focused on the vasculopathy of sickle cell disease (SCD) as well as the development of new therapies in this disease. He was one of the first to report on the high prevalence of pulmonary hypertension in SCD and its association with an increased risk of death. More recently, he has reported on a mechanistic link between pulmonary hypertension and nephropathy in SCD. His research interests also include the contribution of platelet and coagulation activation, and inflammation to the pathophysiology of SCD. He and his collaborators were the first to report on the association between hemolysis and thrombin generation in SCD. Dr. Ataga is currently the Principal Investigator of a clinical trial to determine the effect of anticoagulation on the progression of pulmonary hypertension in SCD. Dr. Ataga and his collaborators have also reported that platelet-derived CD40 ligand is elevated in the plasma of SCD patients and is biologically active. As the αIIbβIII antagonist eptifibatide decreases the release of CD40 ligand from platelets, Dr. Ataga is currently conducting a study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this drug in SCD patients during acute pain episodes.