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Sickle Cell Task Force Members

hSickle Cell Task Force: Home  •  SCTF Business

Membership and Appointment Terms

In November 2019, the Health and Human Services (HHS) executive commissioner appointed the initial seven members of the Sickle Cell Task Force, in the following categories:

  • two members from community-based organizations with experience addressing the needs of individuals with sickle cell disease;
  • two physicians specializing in hematology;
  • two members of the public, each of whom either has sickle cell disease or is a parent of a person with sickle cell disease or trait; and
  • one representative of a health-related institution.

Appointed members of the task force will serve until August 31, 2021. If a vacancy occurs, a person is appointed to serve the unexpired portion of that term. 

Current Task Force Members

List of Members (Click name to view biography)
 NameTerm Expires 
 Titilope Fasipe, MD, PhDAugust 2021
 Melissa Frei-Jones, MD, MSCIAugust 2021 
 Michelle Mackey, PhDAugust 2021
 Alecia Nero, MD, MSCSAugust 2021 
 Tonya PrinceAugust 2021
 Marque Reed-ShackelfordAugust 2021 
 Alysian Thomas, JDAugust 2021 



Titilope Fasipe, MD, PhD – Harris County
Membership Position – Representative of a health-related institution
Term expires August 31, 2021

Dr. Titilope Fasipe has the unique perspective of relating to and understanding the need for education, community awareness, support, and medical care as she is a physician as well as an individual with sickle cell disease. Dr. Fasipe has a Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry from the University of Texas at Arlington. She obtained her doctorate in cell biology and her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, Texas.  In July 2016, she joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in Hematology/Oncology and has continued her research on sickle cell disease. She also provides care to sickle cell patients at the Texas Children’s Hematology Center. Dr. Fasipe has multiple professional memberships including: American Society of Hematology; American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics. She also is a board member of Supporting our Sicklers (SOS) Parent and Guardian Support Group and a member of Sickle Cell Disease Network-Houston. Dr. Fasipe was a member of the Sickle Cell Advisory Committee from 2016 to 2018 and joined the DSHS Newborn Screening Advisory Committee in September 2018 as one of two members in positions representing the sickle cell community. She currently serves as co-chair for the Sickle Cell Subcommittee of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee.


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Melissa Frei-Jones, MD, MSCI – Bexar County
Membership Position – Physician specializing in hematology
Term Expires August 31, 2021

Dr. Melissa Frei-Jones is board-certified in pediatrics, as well as pediatric hematology and oncology. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics with the University of Texas School of Medicine. Dr. Frei-Jones is also the Medical Director of the South Texas Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Center where she cares for children and young adults with sickle cell disease. She has over 10 years of experience including serving seven years as Medical Director of the Pediatric program in San Antonio. Her other professional experience related to sickle cell disease includes: medical director of Camp Cell-A-Bration, program director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship program, and participant with the regional Mountain States Sickle Cell Consortium. Dr. Frei-Jones has professional memberships in: American Society of Hematology; American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO), Hemoglobinopathy Special Interest Group; ASPHO representative to the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation for the development of a Sickle Cell Disease Learning Network Initiative; Medical Director and physician representative/ board member of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Austin – Marc Thomas Chapter. She was an active member of the Sickle Cell Advisory Committee from 2016 to 2018. Dr. Frei-Jones was appointed to the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee in September 2018 and serves as co-chair of the Sickle Cell Subcommittee of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee.


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Michelle Mackey, PhD – Tarrant County
Membership Position – Member of the public who has sickle cell disease or is a parent of a person with sickle cell disease or trait
Term expires August 31, 2021 

Dr. Michelle Mackey is the parent of a child with sickle cell disease, giving her an understanding of the lived experience and familiarity with coping strategies parents use to manage the condition and how to effectively access health care services. Dr. Mackey’s experience as a parent has helped in her extensive knowledge and for researching in studying how parents, individuals and their families cope with sickle cell as a chronic disease. She received her doctorate in Health Services with a specialization in Healthcare Administration in May 2019. Her dissertation topic was “Understanding Parent’s Disease - Managing Strategies for Children with Sickle Cell Disease.” Dr. Mackey had experience as a consultant, in case management and mental health prior to pursuing her doctorate. She has over 10 years combined experience in organizing and community building. As a parent and independent consultant offering health care management and educational strategies to help individuals living with sickle cell disease, Dr. Mackey has unique perspectives to bring to the task force.


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Alecia Nero, MD, MSCS – Dallas County
Membership Position – Physician specializing in hematology
Term expires August 31, 2021 

Dr. Alecia Nero is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics and in the subspecialty of hematology and has a Master of Science in Clinical Sciences. Dr. Nero has been an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine/Hematology-Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Parkland Memorial Hospital, and Children’s Health/Children’s Medical Center in Dallas since 2011. She has been the Director of the Sickle Cell Transition Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center since 2012. She previously served as Medical Director of the Sickle Cell Day Treatment Program and was a member of their Clinical Transformation Task Force and President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion-Health Equity Action Team. Dr. Nero cares for both adults and children with sickle cell disease, giving her a unique perspective on treatment throughout a patient’s lifespan, including the difficult transition from pediatric to adult care. She has also worked on promoting awareness of sickle cell to support her patients and families outside of the clinic and has frequently spoken on topics related to sickle cell disease at conferences and in the media. Dr. Nero has served on the Hemoglobinopathies Interest Group on the Mountain States Genetics Regional Collaborative (MSGRC) and the Hemoglobinopathies Uniform Medical Language Ontology Project with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)/ National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Dr. Nero’s professional memberships include the American Society of Hematology, Dallas County Medical Society, Texas Medical Society, Sickle Cell Adult Provider Network, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, and National Medical Association. Dr. Nero’s experience as a physician in the Dallas area broadens the geographical perspective of medical professionals on the task force to the North Texas region.


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Tonya Prince – Harris County
Membership Position – Member from a community-based organization with experience addressing the needs of individuals with sickle cell disease 
Term expires August 31, 2021 

Tonya Prince is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Sickle Cell Association of Houston, a community-based organization she co-founded in 2014 due to lack of resources in her community. Ms. Prince has a background as a certified professional life coach and Community Health Care Worker Instructor. With over 25 years of experience promoting awareness of sickle cell trait and disease, she is motivated not only as an individual with sickle cell trait, but as a mother of a child with sickle cell disease. Ms. Prince has worked on holding insurers accountable for providing treatment for those living with chronic conditions and promoting awareness and educating communities about sickle cell disease. She has also been a consultant to the UT Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center as a Health Resources and Services Administration grant sub-awardee to execute a peer-to-peer mentoring program. Ms. Prince’s advocacy notably includes supporting the legislation that established the Sickle Cell Task Force, Texas House Bill 3405, authored by Representative Jarvis Johnson, who credits her support for the passage of the bill, along with other sickle cell-related bills passed during the 86th Legislative session in 2019.



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Marque Reed-Shackelford – Harris County 
Membership Position – Member of the public who has sickle cell disease or is a parent of a person with sickle cell disease or trait
Term expires August 31, 2021 

Marque Reed-Shackelford is the parent of two sons with sickle cell disease, giving her an understanding not only of the medical aspects of the disease, but of the daily challenges faced when living with sickle cell disease. Ms. Reed-Shackelford, recognizing the need for resources in her community, co-founded a support group for parents called “Supporting Our Sicklers (S.O.S.) Parent & Guardian Support Group” in 2014 and is the Board President. Under her leadership, the non-profit has received 501(c)(3) status with the objectives to support, educate, and advocate, with programs such as Parent Support “TeleTalks,” financial support for families, and “Survivor Relief Kits.” Ms. Reed-Shackelford also works in healthcare as a Systems Analyst within the Harris Health System and has had previous professional experience as an instructor and training developer. She has also had volunteer experience as a “navigator” for other parents and guardians of children with sickle cell at the Texas Children’s Hematology Center. Ms. Reed-Shackelford was appointed a member of the Sickle Cell Advisory Committee in April 2018 and served until its abolishment in August 2018. 


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Alysian Thomas, JD – Travis County 
Membership Position – Member from a community-based organization with experience addressing the needs of individuals with sickle cell disease 
Term expires August 31, 2021 

Alysian Thomas has been the Chief Operating Officer and Attorney for the Sickle Cell Association of Texas Marc Thomas Foundation since 2013. The Sickle Cell Association of Texas Marc Thomas Foundation, founded in 1997 by her father, Marc Thomas, focuses on serving families affected by sickle cell trait and disease and has provided education and sickle cell awareness throughout Texas. Under her leadership, the organization has expanded its reach to serve families in 52 counties, including 17 in rural areas, and has secured over $2.5 million in grant funding. Ms. Thomas has both a professional and personal connection to issues related sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait. Not only was she impacted by the death of her father at the age of 46 due to sickle cell disease complications, she has sickle cell trait herself, and is the mother of two sons with sickle cell trait. Ms. Thomas, as a certified hemoglobinopathy educator, was previously a client service specialist and health educator, giving her a background in how to effectively educate families affected by sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease. She has provided case management, education, support group meetings, and referral services to behavioral and mental health services to clients across Texas. As a licensed attorney, she has also provided legal advice to families. Ms. Thomas is highly recommended by leadership from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) and leaders in City of Austin public health and state government. Ms. Thomas was also a member of the Sickle Cell Advisory Committee from 2016-2018, and her experience will be helpful in making further contributions to the Sickle Cell Task Force.

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Last updated January 13, 2020