Skip to Content
Also part of the UPMC family:

Meet the Doctors and Staff at UPMC's Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program

Our multidisciplinary team provides comprehensive clinical services to help you efficiently manage your sickle cell disease or thalassemia.

We also work very closely with our pediatric partners at the Sickle Cell Program of the UPMC Children’s Hospital of PittsburghDr. Cheryl Hillery and other team members.

Sickle Cell Doctors and Staff

Dr. Laura De Castro, MD, MHSc 

Laura De Castro, MD

Laura De Castro, MD, MHSc is a board-certified hematologist with 30 years of experience caring for adults with sickle cell disease. She is a Visiting Associate Professor in Medicine and the Clinical Chief of the Benign Hematology section in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. De Castro has been a national leader in designing and conducting clinical trials and translational research projects focused on various aspects of sickle cell disease, and as the site Principal Investigator on major multicenter NIH and pharmaceutical company-sponsored clinical trials in sickle cell disease.

She is the former Medical Director of the Adult Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Duke University.

Gregory J. Kato, MD 

Gregory J. Kato, MD

Gregory Kato, MD is a board-certified hematologist with over 30 years of experience caring for adults and children with sickle cell disease at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, and now at UPMC. He is experienced in all aspects of sickle cell disease, and is a national expert on pulmonary hypertension in patients with sickle cell disease. Dr. Kato is recognized as one of the top physicians for sickle cell anemia on

Dr. Kato's research interests include pulmonary hypertension, early phase clinical trials and translational research. He also serves as the Medical Director for the Children's Sickle Cell Foundation.

 Enrico Novelli, MD, MS

Enrico Novelli, MD, MS

Enrico Novelli, MD, is a board-certified hematologist with expertise in sickle cell anemia, hemoglobinopathies and hemostatic disorders. Dr. Novelli was appointed head of the UPMC Adult Sickle Cell Anemia Program in 2007 and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Hematology/Oncology fellowship program in 2008.

Dr. Novelli splits his time between bench and clinical research and patient care. He currently holds a weekly sickle cell clinic on Wednesday afternoon at the Hillman Cancer Center and shares responsibility of the inpatient sickle cell service with Dr. De Castro and Dr.Kato. His research activities aim at elucidating the causes of vascular dysfunction in patients with sickle cell disease.

 Rebecca Sands, DO

Jesse Soodalter, MD, MA
Pain and Palliative Care Specialist

Jesse Soodalter, MD, MA, is a specialist in Pain and Palliative Care currently helping patients with sickle cell disease manage their pain and other symptoms. She has undergone specialty training in hematology-oncology, hospice and palliative medicine at the University of Chicago.

She sees patients on Wednesday afternoons at Hillman Cancer Center.

Dominique Stevens-Young, MSW, LCSW 

Dominique Stevens-Young, MSW, LCSW
Program Manager

Mrs. Stevens-Young graduated Magna Cum Laude with her Bachelors degree in 1995, then her Masters degree in 1998, both from the University of Pittsburgh. She then received her Advanced Clinical Social Work license in 2007.

Mrs Young advocates for those living with sickle cell disease in academia, in the community, and in the medical setting. She actively participates as a member of the PA Hydroxyurea Health Education Awareness Initiative (HUHEAI).

She also serves as an advisor with Emmi Solutions to develop technology based educational tools and volunteers as an Ambassador for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to help patients make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Additionally, she serves as the Program Manager with our adult program.

Maria Nepa 

Maria Nepa, PA-C

Kimberly Lucia, PA-C
Physician Assistants

Natasha Sticca-Wright, CRNP
Nurse Practitioner

Maria, Natasha and Kim work as liaisons between the UPMC sickle cell disease consult service and the internal medicine or subspecialist teams in both clinical and inpatient settings, and in the day hospital. Amy worked for many years as a nurse at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.


Julie Haught, BSN, RN, OCN
Collaborative Nurse

Julie works in Dr. De Castro's clinic, held on Mondays and Wednesdays. She has been has been a nurse at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center for over 25 years. She has been recognized for her outstanding patient care with the Cameos of Caring Nurses of Western Pennsylvania Award.

Susan Sylvester, RN 

Susan Sylvester, RN
Collaborative Nurse

Susan focuses on helping patients to manage their treatment with hydroxyurea. She has worked in various aspects of sickle cell and hemophilia care for many years, including in home care and case management programs.

Jude Jonassaint, RN

Jude Jonassaint, RN
Research Nurse

Jude has been coordinating clinical research trials in sickle cell disease for over 13 years, previously at Duke University and since 2014 at UPMC. He has clinical nursing experience in intensive care, surgery and psychiatry and he has become expert in information technology and data analysis in clinical research. Duke University recognized him with the the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for significant contributions to the community and to those who lead lives of integrity.

Other Members of the Sickle Cell Disease Care Team

Mark Gladwin, MD 

Mark Gladwin, MD

Mark Gladwin, MD, received his medical degree from the University of Miami Medical Education Honors Program. He completed his internship and served as chief resident during his residency at Oregon Health Sciences University.

He then joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a critical care fellow and later served as Chief of the Pulmonary and Vascular Medicine Branch within the NHLBI of NIH for over a decade. During his tenure as an NIH Branch Chief, Dr. Gladwin’s research activities led to four scientific discoveries and have resulted in over 150 published peer-reviewed manuscripts, 25 approved human subject protocols, and over 1,000 patient protocol enrollments at the NIH Clinical Center.

In 2008, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine named Gladwin Chief of the Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine Division and Director of the Vascular Medicine Institute. In 2015, he became Chair of the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Gladwin's current clinical research interests focus on pulmonary hypertension and other pulmonary complications of sickle cell disease. Through his research and clinical trials, Dr. Gladwin will continue working tirelessly toward the development of new therapies and, ultimately, a widely available cure for sickle cell disease.

Seen and heard — Dr. Gladwin in the news

Dr. Charles Jonassaint, PhD

Charles Jonassaint, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Charles Jonassaint, PhD, obtained his PhD from Duke University, and completed his fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. He is devoted to helping patients better manage psychosocial stress, chronic pain and depression. In his present research, he is primarily interested in designing and implementing health IT interventions that will address the chronic health care needs of patients with sickle cell disease and their families.