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Everad Tilokee

Everad Tilokee is the Research and Training Program coordinator at Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation. Read more about Everad here.

Funding awarded to researchers to optimize blood product use


Thursday, April 30, 2020 Everad Tilokee

Through the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Program, Canadian Blood Services supports

projects that improve the use of blood products. These improvements can be realized at any point from vein to vein, that is from the point of blood collection, through manufacturing, distribution, and storage, to clinical use.

Congratulations to the recent Blood Efficiency Accelerator Program recipients:

  • Jason Acker (University of Alberta & Canadian Blood Services) 
  • Calvino Cheng (Dalhousie University)
  • Andrew Shih (University of British Columbia) 

These projects will increase our understanding of how to optimize the use of blood products to better serve Canadians.

For example, when stored frozen red blood cells must remain below -65°C. However, occasionally during storage, these red blood cells may experience unintentional warming. Jason Acker’s project will evaluate the impact of unintentional warming on the quality of red blood cells. The results may lead to changes in the storage and management of frozen red blood cells.

Despite being within their shelf life, blood products can be  discarded prior to being transfused into a patient. Calvino Cheng’s team will use artificial intelligence technology to investigate why blood products are discarded. Looking at data from several Nova Scotia hospitals, his work aims to identify discard trends to allow hospital staff to respond quickly to reduce blood product wastage.

Andrew Shih’s project will focus on patients undergoing stem cell transplantation often used to treat cancers of the blood and bone marrow. Sometimes patients receive stem cells from donors who are not of the same blood type. With time, the recipient’s blood type will switch to their donor’s blood type. This presents a complex situation if the recipient needs a blood transfusion, and so these patients receive universal blood. Andrew Shih’s team will use a series of blood and genetic testing to determine when recipients undergo blood type switching to reduce the unnecessary use of universal blood.

To learn more about these funded research projects, visit our funded research projects page.

Call for applications!

Do you have an idea that might improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood products?

The BEAP Summer 2020 competition is currently open with an application deadline of July 17, 2020.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program 2020 competition is also open and accepting applications until July 17, 2020.

To learn more about these Programs, visit our research funding opportunities page.

To stay informed about Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation funding opportunities, please sign up for our Research & Education newsletter.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

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Friday, November 29, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The Centre for Innovation supports research, innovation and education in key areas in blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues. This support is in part through the many competitive funding programs centre administers. These are open to Canadian researchers interested in pursuing projects focused on Canadian Blood Services priorities. Read on to learn about the recent recipients of funding through our Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and our Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Everad Tilokee

In 2017, the Centre for Innovation established a new research funding program – the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program or “BEAP”. The BEAP funds research to improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood and blood products. Quick Facts: BEAP was established in 2017 to support research...


Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Everad Tilokee

Centre for Innovation funding programs like the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program enable experts in the fields of transfusion and transplantation medicine to deepen their understanding of the blood system while making vital steps towards a safer, more effective and responsive system for Canada. This program provides postdoctoral fellows with salary support to conduct their research and a supplementary research allowance which can be used towards purchasing materials, supplies, and other services needed to ensure a successful project.

Funding research to improve blood products and the blood system – call for applications!


Thursday, January 30, 2020 Everad Tilokee

The Centre for Innovation’s funding programs support research to help ensure a safe and effective supply of blood and blood products for Canadians. But, research and medicine are not static. To be effective, these programs must be dynamic and respond to new developments and changing needs. The Intramural Research Grant Program (IRGP) is one of the Centre for Innovation’s most responsive and impactful research funding programs.

Every year, the Centre for Innovation welcomes applications to the IRGP competition to ensure that the program is always responding to emerging challenges facing the blood system. This year, the IRGP will support research that will advance knowledge in the following areas:

  • Promoting appropriate blood product utilization
  • Ensuring an adequate blood product supply
  • Minimizing the adverse effects of blood product transfusion
  • Optimizing blood product quality
  • Replacing or improving blood products through new therapies or technologies

Quick Facts:

  • Registration forms are due Feb. 7, 2020, and full applications are due April 10, 2020.
  • All project teams must include ≥ 2 investigators and at least one of the investigators must be a Canadian Blood Services scientist, medical officer/director/consultant, or adjunct scientist.
  • All investigators applying to the IRGP must be affiliated with a Canadian academic program as a faculty member.
  • IRGP projects may be supported up to a maximum of $400,000 over two years.

The IRGP is designed to build strong research teams and to support and maintain a network of researchers dedicated to addressing the needs of Canadian Blood Services. Over the past year alone, nine projects have been funded through this program. These projects address various issues including appropriate utilization of blood products and blood product safety.

For example, a team led by Dr. William Sheffield, associate director, research, at the Centre for Innovation is using mouse models to understand whether plasma, products purified from plasma, or products mimicking proteins found in plasma are best to help critically injured patients. This study will improve understanding of how to best use blood and blood products to benefit Canadian patients.

Dr. Sandra Ramirez-Arcos, senior development scientist at the Centre for Innovation, is investigating how bacteria grow in platelet units to try to better understand why screening tests do not always detect units that are contaminated with bacteria. The findings could help improve transfusion safety, as contaminated units that are not detected by the screening tests and are transfused can cause serious reactions in the patient.

Check out our Funded Research Projects page to learn about the other projects funded under this Program (select “Intramural Research Grant Program” under Programs).

Interested in applying for funding?

If you have a project idea, a faculty appointment at a Canadian academic institution, and a project team member affiliated with Canadian Blood Services, you are eligible to apply for funding through the IRGP. Project teams can be any size; however, all project teams must include two investigators and at least one of the investigators must be affiliated with a Canadian Blood Services as a Canadian Blood Services Scientist, Medical 

Officer/Director/Consultant, or Adjunct Scientist (a list can be found here). All investigators must be affiliated with a Canadian academic institution as a faculty member.

Our 2020 competition is currently open and registration forms must be submitted by February 7, 2020. If you are interested in applying, click here for more information. If you have any questions or need help identifying a team member from Canadian Blood Services, contact the Centre for Innovation by email at centreforinnovation@blood.ca.

Subscribe to the Research & Education Round Up to stay up to date on research publications and funding opportunities.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Everad Tilokee

In 2017, the Centre for Innovation established a new research funding program – the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program or “BEAP”. The BEAP funds research to improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood and blood products. Quick Facts: BEAP was established in 2017 to support research...


Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Everad Tilokee

Centre for Innovation funding programs like the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program enable experts in the fields of transfusion and transplantation medicine to deepen their understanding of the blood system while making vital steps towards a safer, more effective and responsive system for Canada. This program provides postdoctoral fellows with salary support to conduct their research and a supplementary research allowance which can be used towards purchasing materials, supplies, and other services needed to ensure a successful project.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Ross FitzGerald

Researchers are invited to apply for funding under the MSM Research Grant Program

Funding research to improve utilization: Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program


Tuesday, October 30, 2018 Everad Tilokee

In 2017, the Centre for Innovation established a new research funding program – the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program or “BEAP”. The BEAP funds research to improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood and blood products.

Quick Facts:

  • BEAP was established in 2017 to support research projects that can improve the efficient and appropriate utilization of blood products, while maintaining the safety of the blood system
  • Applicants to BEAP must be affiliated with Canadian Blood Services or a Canadian academic program as a faculty member
  • All BEAP project teams must include one Canadian Blood Services employee
  • BEAP projects may be supported up to a maximum of $30,000 for one year

 

Why is improving the efficient and appropriate use of blood and blood products important?

The use of blood and blood products is a very common and often life-saving medical intervention. However, blood and blood products are a limited resource and can sometimes be scarce. As with any medical intervention, choosing to administer blood or blood products also involves weighing benefit to the patient against any potential risks. To maximize the benefit of blood and blood products, while ensuring patient safety, it is important to ensure blood and blood products are used correctly and appropriately.

Appropriate and efficient use of blood and blood products doesn’t just happen at the hospital bedside. The collaborative research projects supported by the BEAP may result in changes at Canadian Blood Services or Canadian hospitals at any point in the “life-to-life” continuum. That is, at any point from blood collection, to manufacturing of blood products, distribution of blood products, blood banking, and use at the hospital.

“I am proud that we are able to support the health system by facilitating research on utilization through the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program. This program underscores Canadian Blood Services’ commitment to a sustainable and progressive system that ensures a safe and effective blood supply for all Canadians”, says Dr. Chantale Pambrun, director of the Centre for Innovation at Canadian Blood Services.  

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blood and blood products end to end continuum

Since the BEAP was launched, four projects have been funded. These projects address issues ranging from product quality to clinical utilization.

A team led by Dr. William Sheffield, associate director, research, at the Centre for Innovation is examining the possibility that two technologies – pathogen inactivation and red cell rejuvenation – can be combined to improve red blood cell product safety and efficacy. Dr. Maria Fernandes, associate professor at Université Laval, is leading a project team that includes investigators from Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. Their project will assess the quality of granulocyte concentrates, a blood product collected and manufactured by Héma-Québec, to optimize their use in transfusion therapy.

Dr. Jason Acker, senior scientist at the Centre for Innovation, and project team members are investigating a non-invasive prenatal genetic test to determine the compatibility of maternal blood with the fetus’s blood. Dr. Guillaume Martel, assistant professor at University of Ottawa, is leading a project team that is examining current transfusion practices in liver surgery patients at The Ottawa Hospital. Their aim is to develop educational initiatives to reduce inappropriate transfusions.

Interested in applying for funding?

If you have a project idea and are affiliated with a Canadian academic institution as a faculty member or with Canadian Blood Services, you are eligible to apply for funding through the BEAP. Project teams can be any size; however, at least one team member must be a Canadian Blood Services employee.

Our 2019 competition opens today and applications must be submitted by January 15, 2019. If you are interested in applying, click here for more information. If you have any questions or need help identifying a team member from Canadian Blood Services, contact the Centre for Innovation by email at centreforinnovation@blood.ca.

Subscribe to the Research & Education Round Up to stay up to date on research publications and funding opportunities. 

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Meet the Researcher: Dr. Alan Lazarus


Wednesday, March 07, 2018 Everad Tilokee

For this installment of “Meet the Researcher” we caught up with Dr. Alan Lazarus a research scientist and immunologist at Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation.

How long have you been at Canadian Blood Services?

I've been working with the blood service in Canada since 1994.

What’s your role?

As a Canadian Blood Services scientist, my role is to lead research studies that further our understanding of how therapeutic immunoglobulin products like intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) and anti-D work in situations in which they are used. As an example, IVIg is a very expensive biologic made from the plasma of thousands of blood donors and it is used to treat patients with a variety of autoimmune diseases or inflammatory states. Although IVIg is a wonderful biological treatment for patients, we still have a poor understanding of how it actually works in the body.  One of my goals is to understand how IVIg works so we can design a synthetic IVIg substitute that could be used in patients.  We have already created a few synthetic substitutes for IVIg used to treat mice with autoimmune disease and the next step is to transition this work to treating patients.

Dr. Lazarus’ work has helped advance understanding of how IVIg works to treat certain diseases. In 2006, he was the senior author of a study published in “Nature Medicine”, which demonstrated that IVIg’s beneficial effect in treating the auto-immune disease Immune Thrombocytopenia (or ITP) appears to involve the interaction of IVIg with an activating receptor (called FcyR) on immune cells. This had not been previously reported, and was an important step in laying the foundation for subsequent scientific investigation into the effects of IVIg.

Where is your lab? 

My lab is located at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Tell us about your area(s) of research...

I have two major areas of research.  The first area is in IVIg replacements in murine models of autoimmune disease. The second area is trying to understand how anti-D works to prevent hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn in a murine model. In both cases we are attempting to derive a synthetic replacement for IVIg and anti-D. IVIg and anti-D are made by pooling large numbers of blood donations together to make a final product. While IVIg and anti-D are both considered safe, we want to make synthetic substitutes rather than treat patients with pooled plasma products.  Although there are a variety of reasons why this is important, currently Canada only collects enough plasma to treat roughly 30% of patients with IVIg. The remainder of the IVIg must be purchased on the open market in competition with other countries. If we did not have access to the IVIg on the open market, then most patients would go without.  We wish to avoid this and therefore we continue to perform work towards finding IVIg and anti-D substitutes.

Learn more about immune globulins and hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn in our Clinical Guide to Transfusion on our Professional Education website.

What are you working on now?

We have recently made a cool discovery in our mouse models.  One of the treatments for a particular type of autoimmune disease called immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is the use of anti-D. Anti-D is supplied by Canadian Blood Services for the treatment of ITP as well as the prevention of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.  It is not known to be beneficial in any other diseases. Based on some interesting results we hypothesized that anti-D may in fact be beneficial in other mouse models of autoimmunity or inflammatory diseases.  We therefore tested this and surprisingly discovered that anti-D works in mouse models of inflammatory arthritis and transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI).  TRALI, although very rare, is a leading cause of death in those receiving blood product transfusions. Therefore, the knowledge that anti-D could be used to treat TRALI as well as autoimmune diseases other than ITP is good news for patients. 

Learn about Dr. Lazarus’ use of IVIg to prevent TRALI in the ResearchUnit: “Research into TRALI therapies generates results that are a TAD interesting!”

Why did you get into science?

Way back in the old days I was thinking of going into either science or engineering.  Since my math skills were not the greatest I thought, let’s give science (biology) a try.  It was a great decision and I have never looked back.

What inspires you?

The scientific process is what inspires me most in my job.  I think it’s amazing that even though we might make mistakes in science and biology (I think we at first get most things wrong), with time and the desire of most scientists to try to disprove dogma, we eventually get it right. 

What do you find most exciting about your work?

The possibility that something we create in the laboratory and test in mice may one day make it to patient care.

What work are you most proud of?

I am proud of many things that come out of our laboratory and the people who perform the actual experiments.  I don’t think I can pick just one or two things.

Read more about the newest postdoctoral fellow to join the Lazarus lab in R.E.D.

When you’re not in the lab where could we find you?

Probably in traffic… but occassionally on a bog in Ireland. 

 

 

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Dr. Alan Lazarus

Subscribe to our Research & Education Round Up to stay up to date on research publications and funding opportunities. 

Visit our Funded Research Projects to view projects funded by Canadian Blood Services.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018
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This week, we catch up with Dr. Sandra Ramirez-Arcos, Canadian Blood Services’ development scientist and head of the microbiology laboratory in Ottawa. How long have you been with Canadian Blood Services? I started working at Canadian Blood Services on November 10, 2003, so it will be 15 years in...

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program: enhancing expertise in transfusion and transplantation science


Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Everad Tilokee

Centre for Innovation funding programs like the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program enable experts in the fields of transfusion and transplantation medicine to deepen their understanding of the blood system while making vital steps towards a safer, more effective and responsive system for Canada.

 

Image
quick facts

This program provides postdoctoral fellows with salary support to conduct their research and a supplementary research allowance that can be used towards purchasing materials, supplies, and other services needed to ensure a successful project. Alternatively, it enables them to attend conferences where they can exchange knowledge with peers and gain exposure to a valuable network of experts in their field.

Established in 2001, this program is one of the longest running funding opportunities offered by Canadian Blood Services.  Postdoctoral fellows form a vital part of Canadian Blood Services’ esteemed research network that actively makes high-impact contributions to the research community. These advances often translate into an improved blood system and better clinical outcomes for patients.

Introducing Drs. David A. Donkor and Yoelys Cruz-Leal!

Meet Drs. David A. Donkor and Yoelys Cruz-Leal, funded recipients of the 2017–2018 Canadian Blood Services postdoctoral fellowship. We sat down with Dr. Donkor and Dr. Cruz-Leal to discuss their research and what the postdoctoral fellowship means to them.

 

Dr. David A. Donkor  

 

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Dr. David Donkor

Dr. David Donkor has been working as a Canadian Blood Services postdoctoral fellow since 2015 under the tutelage of Dr. William Sheffield. Donkor expressed that the fellowship gives him an opportunity to expand his professional network and expertise. It also allows him to bridge his interests in genetics, biotechnology, drug delivery, and a wider range of blood products saying it “felt like a natural progression from [his] PhD.”  

His current work primarily focuses on two projects; the first aiming to use DNA molecules, called aptamers, to reduce the formation of dangerous blood clots that often lead to a heart attack or stroke.

 “One of the advantages of using aptamers is they are non-immunogenic, giving them an advantage over protein therapeutics such as antibodies. As a result, using aptamers to inhibit the intrinsic coagulation pathway protein Factor XIa (which has been shown to be an important component in [clot] formation) is highly desirable.”

His second project tries to identify DNA aptamers that can be used as quality markers for the viability of red blood cells. This would enable blood operators to differentiate between old, defective red blood cells and healthy, viable red blood cells for safer and more effective transfusion.

“One of the benefits it provides is helping me to see the bigger picture of how I fit into the research community and beyond.  It helps you understand your journey. When you are at the [lab] bench you tend to be focused on just one thing without taking a step back and looking at the overall picture of what you are doing and why.” - Dr. David Donkor

He continues on the topic of the research allowance. “I have gone [to] several conferences to see what other Canadian Blood Services scientists are working on, [to see] the impact the organization is making, and to get more ideas for my own work.”

So, what’s next for Dr. Donkor? He is hoping to increase the clot-busting potency of DNA aptamers and to observe their effect in animal models.  Ultimately, Donkor envisions an encapsulated DNA aptamer that would be administered directly at the site of a blood clot where it would work to inhibit clotting factors to safely break it down. 

When his lab coat is hung up for the day, Donkor enjoys playing soccer, reading and staying fit. When asked if he could keep up with Dr. Sheffield (an excellent long distance runner), Donkor quickly answered, “No way. I think I would need about 10 years to work up to his level!”

 

Dr. Yoelys Cruz-Leal

 

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Dr. Yoelys Cruz-Leal

Originally from Cuba, Dr. Cruz-Leal is the Centre for Innovation’s newest postdoctoral fellow and is currently based at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Alan Lazarus

Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) occurs when a mother’s immune system sees her fetus’ blood as a foreign invader and attacks it. This can have terrible consequences for the fetus. Currently, doctors use a drug (called polyclonal anti-D) to prevent this unwanted reaction.

However, she stresses that while anti-D is effective, it is derived from human plasma which is very costly.  Dr. Cruz-Leal studies how monoclonal antibody blends can trigger suppression of the immune system to decrease the chances of developing HDFN. According to Cruz-Leal, her work is the crucial first step for designing monoclonal antibodies in the lab to prevent HDFN instead of relying on plasma derived anti-D.

After an unsuccessful application in 2016, Cruz-Leal credits the competitive nature of the program as added motivation to work harder to ultimately triumph this year. Near the top of Dr. Cruz-Leal’s “To-Do list” is to publish her work, expand her project, and attend conferences such as the 35th international congress of the ISBT. Echoing Donkor’s sentiment, she emphasizes the importance of collaboration enabled by the postdoctoral fellowship program.

I attended the annual Canadian Society of Tranfusion Medicine meeting which showed me the impact that Canadian Blood Services scientists are having in this exciting field. It helped me to understand the future of our field and how I am contributing to it.  The conference increased my knowledge and I hope to use my research allowance to attend similar conferences in Canada abroad in the future.”  - Dr. Cruz-Leal says.

In addition to the importance of getting an outside perspective on her work, she notes the impact that this program has on her career and personal development. In the end, Dr. Cruz-Leal hopes that her fellowship work as a basic scientist gets translated into clinical use meaning less demand for plasma products and healthier patients.  When she is not in the lab, Dr. Cruz-Leal can be found reading, at the movies, or as she jokes “salsa dancing like any true Cuban.

 

Who can apply?

Highly qualified graduates of doctoral programs (e.g. Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S, or D.V.M.) apply for this fellowship to support their postdoctoral research, and are evaluated on the project’s relevance to Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation research priorities; their qualifications; the merit of the project (i.e. research excellence and feasibility), and the quality of the research and training environment where the work will be conducted.

The program has an international scope with a Canadian focus.  Attracting applicants from Canada and abroad, this fellowship is open to applicants of all nationalities under the primary academic supervision of a Canadian Blood Services scientist/investigator, adjunct scientist or medical officer/director. 

Previous projects supported by this program addressed promising alternatives to intravenous immunoglobulins, how to improve stem cell transplantation to treat cancer patients, and treatment options to control bleeding in patients with bleeding disorders like hemophilia.

 

Applications for the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program will be open in Summer 2018. For more information check out the competition guidelines.  

Subscribe to the Research & Education Round Up to stay up to date on research publications and funding opportunities. 

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation — bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services.

 

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