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O'Brien, Sheila

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Contact Dr. O’Brien

Mailing Address:

Canadian Blood Services
1800 Alta Vista Dr.
Ottawa, ON, K1G 4J5

Phone Number: 613-739-2144

Other Website
Google Scholar

Associate Director
Epidemiology & Surveillance
Canadian Blood Services

Adjunct Professor
University of Ottawa

Epidemiology – understanding and minimizing the infectious risks associated with blood transfusion

Dr. O’Brien examines donor deferral criteria which address infectious risks to recipients as well as donor safety, and conducts surveillance of blood borne pathogens.

Why is it important?

Ensuring the safety of the blood supply from pathogens involves a multifaceted approach, including donor selection and education, testing for known pathogens, gathering surveillance data and horizon scanning for emerging pathogens.

[Read more]

Donor Health

Together with Dr. Mindy Goldman, Dr. O’Brien recently investigated iron deficiency in Canadian donors – a major aspect of donor health being investigated by blood operators worldwide, and discovered that many female donors have low or absent iron stores.

Why is it important?

Approximately 600,000 people, or 2% of the Canadian adult population, enable lifesaving treatments for their fellow citizens by donating blood. Iron deficiency is a common problem in the Canadian population, particularly in women of child-bearing age and blood donation has a significant impact on iron stores in frequent donors.

[Read more]

Leadership Roles:

2014 - Current Chair, The AABB Donor History Questionnaire Task Force
2003 – 2014

Member, The AABB Donor History Questionnaire Task Force

2009 – Current  

Coordinator Surveillance, Risk Assessment and Policy Subgroup, Transfusion Transmitted Infectious Diseases Working Party, The International Society for Blood Transfusion 

2003 – Current  

Member, Canadian Standards Association Technical Committee on Blood and Blood Components


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Western Australia

  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Nursing), Curtin University, Western Australia

  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Statistics), Murdoch University, Western Australia