Cleveland, OH

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute honors three students for interactive book on sickle cell disease

James Stephens
Aliis Sinisalu/Unsplash

CLEVELAND, OH — Zoe Sekyonda, a second-year Case Western Reserve University student pursuing her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and team, won second place in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Hope for Sickle Cell Disease Challenge.

Sekyonda worked with two students from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Grace Schlemmer and Kerstyn Gay.

The three students won second place honor for their digital book project, titled “My Super Cell and me!”. The book is an interactive book targeted at children and teens. The story is told from the perspective of a superhero that is living with sickle cell disease. The superhero uses their power to help people around them better cope with the illness, battle stigmas, and live their lives to the fullest.

Besides a fun interactive story, the book also tells simple-to-understand scientific information regarding sickle cell disease. The interactive book is compact with animation and interactive elements created to look interesting for middle and high school students.

The book is helpful for people who want to know more about the sickle cell disease and give encouragement for the adolescent with the illnesses and empower them to have a desire and live a life filled with optimism.

The students have mentors to guide them in finishing the projects. These faculty mentors are:

  • Olabimpe Olayiwola, research assistant in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
  • Umut Gurkan, Warren E. Rupp Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
  • Amma Owusu-Ansah, clinical instructor, pediatric hematologist/oncologist.

See the overview of the digital book at

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