Marilyn Jo Telen, MD

Professor of Medicine
Wellcome Clinical Distinguished Professor of Medicine in Honor of R. Wayne Rundles, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pathology
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute
Campus mail 333 Med Sci Res Bldg, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 684-5378
Email address

Dr. 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.

Dr. Telen's laboratory focuses on structure/function analysis of membrane proteins expressed by erythroid cells, as well as the role of these proteins in non-erythroid cells. Proteins are also studied in transfectant systems, and research focuses especially on 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 molecular basis of blood group antigen expression, and (4) to understand the interactions of erythroid membrane proteins with other cells and with extracellular matrix..

Recent investigations have focused on the role of signaling pathways in the upregulation of sickle red cell adhesion. Present studies include (1) investigation of beta-adrenergic signaling pathway responsible for activation of B-CAM/LU and LW adhesion receptors; (2) understanding how nitric oxide and ATP downregulate sickle red cell adhesion; (3) studying the effect of these processes in animal models.

Dr. Telen is also involved in a large multicenter study looking for genetic polymorphisms that affect clinical outcomes in sickle cell disease, as well as a multi-center study investigating the mechanisms and treatment of pulmonary hypertension in sickle cell disease.

Key Words:

Adhesion molecules
Erythrocyte membrane
Sickle cell disease
Transfusion medicine
Genetic polymorphisms

Education and Training

  • Fellowship, Hematology/ Oncology, Duke University School of Medicine, 1980 - 1983
  • Resident, Medicine, State University of New York - Buffalo, 1977 - 1980
  • Intern, Medicine, State University of New York - Buffalo, 1977 - 1978
  • M.D., New York University, 1977


Ilboudo, Yann, Melanie E. Garrett, Pablo Bartolucci, Carlo Brugnara, Clary B. Clish, Joel N. Hirschhorn, Frédéric Galactéros, Allison E. Ashley-Koch, Marilyn J. Telen, and Guillaume Lettre. “Potential causal role of l-glutamine in sickle cell disease painful crises: A Mendelian randomization analysis.” Blood Cells Mol Dis 86 (February 2021): 102504.

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Dinardo, Carla L., Theo G. M. Oliveira, Shannon Kelly, Allison Ashley-Koch, Marilyn Telen, Luciana C. Schmidt, Shirley Castilho, et al. “Diversity of variant alleles encoding Kidd, Duffy, and Kell antigens in individuals with sickle cell disease using whole genome sequencing data from the NHLBI TOPMed Program.” Transfusion 61, no. 2 (February 2021): 603–16.

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Nielsen, Jonas B., Oren Rom, Ida Surakka, Sarah E. Graham, Wei Zhou, Tanmoy Roychowdhury, Lars G. Fritsche, et al. “Loss-of-function genomic variants highlight potential therapeutic targets for cardiovascular disease.” Nat Commun 11, no. 1 (December 18, 2020): 6417.

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Ataga, Kenneth I., Qingning Zhou, Vimal K. Derebail, Santosh L. Saraf, Jane S. Hankins, Laura R. Loehr, Melanie E. Garrett, Allison E. Ashley-Koch, Jianwen Cai, and Marilyn J. Telen. “Rapid decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate in sickle cell anemia: results of a multicenter pooled analysis.” Haematologica Online ahead of print (November 12, 2020).

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Wen, Fayuan, Angela Rock, Juan Salomon-Andonie, Gulriz Kurban, Xiaomei Niu, Songping Wang, Xu Zhang, et al. “Genome Wide Association Analysis of Iron Overload in the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Sickle Cell Disease Cohorts.” In Blood, 136:52–52. American Society of Hematology, 2020.

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Bick, Alexander G., Joshua S. Weinstock, Satish K. Nandakumar, Charles P. Fulco, Erik L. Bao, Seyedeh M. Zekavat, Mindy D. Szeto, et al. “Inherited causes of clonal haematopoiesis in 97,691 whole genomes.” Nature 586, no. 7831 (October 2020): 763–68.

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Li, Xihao, Zilin Li, Hufeng Zhou, Sheila M. Gaynor, Yaowu Liu, Han Chen, Ryan Sun, et al. “Dynamic incorporation of multiple in silico functional annotations empowers rare variant association analysis of large whole-genome sequencing studies at scale.” Nat Genet 52, no. 9 (September 2020): 969–83.

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Zekavat, Seyedeh M., Sanni Ruotsalainen, Robert E. Handsaker, Maris Alver, Jonathan Bloom, Timothy Poterba, Cotton Seed, et al. “Publisher Correction: Deep coverage whole genome sequences and plasma lipoprotein(a) in individuals of European and African ancestries.” Nat Commun 11, no. 1 (April 1, 2020): 1715.

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