Wally R. Smith, MD is the first recipient of The Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professor of Sickle Cell Disease, the second African-American female chair in the United States. He also serves as the Vice-Chairman for Research of the Division of General Internal Medicine and is the former Scientific Director of the Center on Health Disparities at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition he was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Standards for Trustworthy Guidelines. He has authored over 100 publications, and served as an investigator on over 50 externally funded grants and contracts, including principal investigator on 26 federal or foundation-funded grants and contracts


Payal C. Desai, MD¬¬ is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology, at the Ohio State University, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital, Wexner Medical Center, where she is Director of Sickle Cell Research.

Dr. Desai received her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY. She completed her residency at University of Louisville in Louisville, KY and her fellowship in hematology and oncology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. During her fellowship, she pursued disease specific training in sickle cell disease on a T32 training award. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hematology.

Dr. Desai has authored or co-authored 26 papers and 32 abstracts, primarily in the field of sickle cell research. Dr. Desai is a 2008 Annual Resident Teacher Award Winner, the 2011 American Society of Hematology Abstract Achievement Award Winner, the 2015 Dr. Richard and Lynda Goldberg Award for Clinical Excellence Winner, the 2016 Fellowship Benign Hematology Lecture Award and the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Awardee for the Faith Thomas Foundation Partnership Award for Sickle Cell Awareness. Under her leadership, the Ohio State Comprehensive Adult Sickle Cell Program is the only joint commission certified program in the country.

Dr. Desai holds professional memberships with the American Society of Hematology and the Sickle Cell Adult Provider Network (SCAPN). She is currently vice president of the Sickle Cell Adult Provider Network. and founder of the Sickle Cell Provider Network, Jr, an organization committed to the development of young researchers in the field of sickle cell disease. She has participated in numerous multicentered studies and currently the principal investigator on over 10 studies focused on sickle cell disease.