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Organs and Tissues

Nominations now open for the 2020 Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award


Tuesday, February 18, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award are individuals whose landmark contributions are recognized as both extraordinary and world class in the field of transfusion or transplantation medicine, stem cell or cord blood research in Canada and/or abroad.

Who can be nominated?

To be nominated for the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, an individual must have contributed significantly to improving the safety and/or quality of blood, blood products, stem cells and/or cord blood or has made noteworthy improvements or advances in transfusion or transplantation medicine practice. Their record of publication should be of significance and their professional reputation should be aligned with the goals and reputation of Canadian Blood Services, reflecting a quality culture driven by excellence.

Be inspired by past recipients

Typically, there is only one recipient of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award each year, but in 2019 two outstanding innovators were recognized. Dr. Donna Wall was honoured for her medical career spanning almost 40 years during which she made significant contributions to the evolution of blood and marrow transplantation across North America. Transplant physician and scientist Dr. Harold Atkins was honoured for his career dedicated to discovering innovative methods for stem cell transplantation.

The 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented on September 21, 2020 in Ottawa at the annual national Honouring Canada’s Lifeline event where Canadian Blood Services honours donors, volunteers, peer recruiters and partners for their outstanding dedication and achievements.

To learn about past recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, and other awardees at the Honouring Canada's Lifeline annual ceremony, click here.

Nomination requirements
  • Provide a short introduction and summary in 150 words or less of the nominee’s contribution to improving the safety and/or quality of blood, blood products or stem cells, or contribution to advances in transfusion medicine practice
  • Present a brief biography including academic, research, clinical and administrative positions, awards or recognitions
  • Outline how the work of the nominee is set apart from the work of others in the field
  • Provide a nominee’s full current curriculum vitae and contact information for the nominee including full name, mailing address, telephone number(s) and email address
  • Provide name and contact information for the nominator(s)

Candidates should be unaware that they have been nominated for this award.

Process for nominations

To nominate an individual for the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, please submit in writing to:

Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award Nominating Committee
c/o Dr. Isra Levy, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Innovation
Canadian Blood Services
1800 Alta Vista Drive

Ottawa, Ontario K1G 4J5

isra.levy@blood.ca

Nominations must be received by May 19, 2020.

More information

The Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award came into existence in 2002. To date, the Canadian Blood Services Board of Directors has selected the following individuals for this prestigious award:

  • Dr. John Bowman, 2002
  • Ms. Marie Cutbush Crookston, 2002
  • Dr. Morris A. Blajchman, 2003
  • Dr. Peter Pinkerton, 2004
  • Dr. John Freedman, 2006
  • Dr. Hans Messner, 2007
  • Mr. Justice Horace Krever, 2008
  • Dr. Gail Rock, 2009
  • Dr. Victor Blanchette, 2010
  • Dr. Allen Eaves and Dr. Connie Eaves, 2011
  • Dr. Celso Bianco, 2012
  • The Canadian Hemophilia Society, 2013
  • Dr. John Dossetor, 2013
  • Dr. Gershon Growe, 2014
  • Dr. Bruce McManus, 2015
  • Dr. David Lillicrap, 2016
  • Nancy Heddle, Leah Hollins 2017
  • André Picard, 2018
  • Dr. Harold Atkins and Dr. Donna Wall, 2019

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, September 27, 2019
Catherine Lewis

With a medical career spanning almost 40 years, Dr. Donna Wall has made significant contributions to the evolution of blood and marrow transplantation across North America. After completing paediatric and paediatric hematology/oncology training in the U.S., Dr. Wall went on to establish blood and...


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With a focus on improving the lives of patients living with autoimmune diseases, transplant physician and scientist Dr. Harold Atkins has dedicated his career to discovering innovative methods for stem cell transplantation. In the late 1990s, Dr. Atkins and neurologist Dr. Mark Freedman proposed a...


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Recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award are individuals whose landmark contributions are recognized as both extraordinary and world class in the field of transfusion or transplantation medicine, stem cell or cord blood research in Canada and/or abroad.

Highlights from the 2019 Critical Care Canada Forum


Thursday, February 06, 2020 Jenny Ryan

The 2019 Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) took place in Toronto Nov. 10-13. This year marked the fifth annual Deceased Organ Donation Symposium, a two-day symposium held during CCCF that promotes scientific research and discussion about organ donation and transplantation and its application to critical care practice. 

Presented by Canadian Blood Services, Trillium Gift of Life and the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, this year’s event did not disappoint. Presentations from this session were recorded and can be found on Canadian Blood Services’ professional education website.

Highlights

Opt-out (presumed/deemed consent) — In April 2019, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass opt-out legislation, designed to increase organ and tissue donation. To better understand the real-world implications and impact of this consent model, attendees heard from Phil Walton, the United Kingdom’s deemed consent project lead.  His message for Canadian jurisdictions considering this legislation change was to ensure the right people were around the table and that true collaboration among these groups was employed – legislators, regulators, faith groups, organ donation organizations, patients, families, as well as media and ethics experts. 

 

For health care professionals, the legislation should not change end-of-life conversations with families. The patient and unique life-saving opportunity at hand should remain the focus of every family discussion. The legislation is simply a tool to help the family support a decision. 

 

Randall Tressider presents at Canadian Critical Care Forum in 2019, alongside a photo of his deceased wife Shelly Sarwal

Medical assistance in dying and organ donation — The legalization of medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada has led to requests for donation after circulatory determination of death from patients who are conscious and competent. Randy Tresidder, whose wife Dr. Shelly Sarwal was the first person to undergo MAID and organ donation in Nova Scotia, shared his story. His honesty about the personal conflicts he experienced in order to accept and wholly support his wife’s decision to become an organ and tissue donor brought great insight to a sensitive subject.

The incredible story of Dr. Sarwal is captured in the documentary film Her Last Project, which attendees also had the opportunity to view during the conference.

Non-Perfused Organ Donation – Dr. Marcelo Cypel, from the Toronto Lung Transplant Program, described an innovative technique that is being used to expand the donor – non-perfused organ donation (NPOD). 

At select hospitals in Ontario, patients who were unable to be resuscitated after an unexpected death, such as a cardiac arrest, are referred to the organ donation organization for initial suitability screening.   Potential NPOD donors have their lungs inflated with oxygen for up to three hours; the timeframe permitted for family approach and consent, deployment of the recovery teams, and lung recovery to take place.  After recovery, the lungs are placed on an ex-vivo lung perfusion machine to evaluate the quality of their function prior to transplantation. 

Dr. Cypel shared that this type of donation had resulted in five transplants to date.  One recipient was a surprise guest at the Symposium.  Eric Celentano’s gratitude for a second chance at life reminded attendees why this work is so important. 

Recordings from all of the Deceased Organ Donation Symposium sessions are posted on the Professional Education website, available here.

Check out the gallery for more photos, including one of the inaugural meeting to begin development of a national pediatric donation and transplantation strategy focused to optimizing neonatal and pediatric donation, organ utilization and transplant outcomes. The meeting included more than 30 participants from pediatrics, critical care, donation, transplantation, research as well as donor families and Canadian Blood Services. Meagan Mahoney, a pediatric intensivist from Calgary; Laurie Lee, a pediatric nurse practitioner from Calgary; and Lee James from Canadian Blood Services’ Deceased Donation team will lead and support a steering committee to advance this important work.

Did you miss the 2018 event? Videos from the 2018 Deceased Donation Symposium at CCCF are available here.


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, November 06, 2018
Jenny Ryan

The Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) takes place this week in Toronto. The annual event is attended by hundreds of health professionals working in critical care, primarily physicians. A key event within the Forum is an unopposed plenary on brain death determination, to be held on Wednesday, November 7th.


Tuesday, October 08, 2019
Jenny Ryan

This year marks the fifth annual Deceased Organ Donation Symposium at the Critical Care Canada Forum in Toronto. This two-day symposium held Nov. 11–12, 2019 promotes scientific research in organ donation and transplantation and its application to critical care practice.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Jenny Ryan

Canadian partners bring experts together for two-day Deceased Donation Symposium as part of CCCF

Memories of CST 2019


Thursday, October 24, 2019 Jenny Ryan

The 2019 Canadian Transplant Summit took place Oct. 15-19 in iconic Banff, Alta. Presented by the Canadian Society of Transplantation (CST), Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP), this annual event is a unique opportunity to bring together medical professionals, scientists, patients and stakeholders of all interests in organ donation and transplantation from across Canada.

This community works together to foster a future which will increase access to organs, cells and tissues, and improve health outcomes for Canadians living with a transplant. The meeting was a key networking and knowledge exchange event that attracted more than 350 participants.

Highlights

As part of the opening keynote address on Oct. 16, the audience experienced two very diverse life-saving perspectives.

Winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics, Alvin Roth of Stanford University, presented the opening plenary titled “Kidney Exchange: an opportunity for cooperation in North America”, a look at the impacts of cross-border kidney sharing. Dr. Roth helped design the high school matching system used in New York City, and is one of the early founders and designers of kidney exchange in the United States, which helps incompatible patient-donor pairs find compatible kidneys for transplantation.

The parents of Logan Boulet, Toby and Bernadine, shared their perspective on organ donation and transplantation as a donor family. Logan Boulet made the decision to be an organ donor just weeks before his passing in the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018. Inspired to register by his coach and mentor, Ric Suggit, who became an organ donor following his death in 2017, Logan registered his decision and took the wise and necessary step of sharing his decision with his family. 

Tweet from CST participant with photos of the Boulets presenting

 

Logan’s legacy lives on and continues to inspire Canadians to register their intent to become organ donors. The first annual Green Shirt Day was held on April 7, 2019 in Logan’s honour. This annual tribute continues to raise awareness and honour the selfless gift that is organ donation.

Bernadine and Toby Boulet share their perspective as a donor family
Bernadine and Toby Boulet share their perspective as a donor family

A number of sessions throughout the conference provided insight into the work being done in Canada and internationally to push the boundaries of ‘higher risk’ donors, and especially to increase the uptake and usage of Hepatitis C (NAT positive) donor organs for healthy waitlisted patient.

On Oct. 17, during a lunch symposium, Sean Delaney, associate director of listing and allocation at Canadian Blood Services, brought his unique perspective as both transplant professional and as a kidney recipient (a generous gift from his brother), currently on the waitlist for a second kidney. His presentation was titled “Patient perspective on the marginal or high risk offer vs. waiting for a 'better' offer.”

Delaney, based in Edmonton, Alta., was part of building the original Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program, as well as implementing the highly sensitized patient (HSP) interprovincial kidney sharing program. Together, the programs have produced more than 1,000 transplants for Canadian patients through interprovincial sharing. Most recently, he has been working to advance heart and liver sharing through the Canadian Transplant Registry.

Photo of Sean Delaney speaking at a podium

 

 

 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning were hot topics at this meeting and the subject of a half-day workshop presented by the CDTRP.

On Oct. 19, a morning session shared further insight into living donation. Dr. John Gill with the University of British Columbia presented about costs incurred by living donors that present a barrier or disincentives to donation. Dr. Rahul Mainra, a transplant nephrologist in Saskatchewan, presented about the impact of kidney paired donation and the importance of ‘matchability’ for kidney paired donation and transplantation. Allison Hunt, who donated her left kidney to a total stranger after a snap decision made at a cocktail party, provided perspectives from an altruistic living donor.

Tweet reading . @amhealey  provided an insightful overview of DCD Hearts: A possible medical legal/ethical framework in  @cst_transplant  Heart Concurrent Session. The patient/donor family engagement that has occurred to investigate this issue is very impressive. #PatientsIncluded #CdnTxSummit2019

 

 

 

 

Kathy Yetzer, associate director of living donation with Canadian Blood Services, presented a poster about key success factors for Canadian living kidney donation transplant programs.
Kathy Yetzer, associate director of living donation with Canadian Blood Services, presented a poster about key success factors for Canadian living kidney donation transplant programs.

The poster sessions brought great insight into the wealth and breadth of research underway across the field. Kathy Yetzer, associate director of living donation with Canadian Blood Services, presented a poster about key success factors for Canadian living kidney donation transplant programs. The findings show that performance success was most influenced by implementation of living donation evaluation efficiencies; engaging program stakeholders; broadening living donation identification and awareness strategies; access to quality assurance resources; increased living kidney donation transplant funding; and operating room availability. 

Tweet reading: Thank you  @umtincka  for an outstanding talk on “Canada’s National Multiorgan Willing to Cross Strategy” - Technology, DNA and Policy/Analysis is the how!  @cst_peds   @cst_transplant  #2019CanadianTransplantSummit

 

 

 

Altogether, CST 2019 was great forum for knowledge exchange and to advance organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Canada. Kudos to the organizing teams at the Canadian Society of Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program.

Learn more about CST 2019

A tweet from the summit showing animals that look like deer or caribou walking down a path

 

 

 


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 02, 2018
Jenny Ryan

Health professionals, patients, and policy makers gathered in Ottawa to discuss the future of transplantation in Canada at the Canadian Transplant Summit 2018 — October 16-20, 2018. The Canadian Society of Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services, the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research...


Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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Transplanting organs, tissue or stem cells from one person to another saves lives. It was not easy to figure out what facilitates a healthy and successful transplant though. Efforts over a long time reveal the complexity of the procedure and that very specific circumstances are required. As researchers’ understanding of the immune system improved, so did the success rate of transplants.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Jenny Ryan

Five hundred kidney transplants made possible through national highly sensitized patient program

The 2019 Critical Care Canada Forum hosts fifth annual Deceased Organ Donation Symposium


Tuesday, October 08, 2019 Jenny Ryan

This year marks the fifth annual Deceased Organ Donation Symposium at the Critical Care Canada Forum in Toronto.

Presented by Canadian Blood Services, Trillium Gift of Life and the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP), this two-day symposium held Nov. 11–12, 2019 promotes scientific research in organ donation and transplantation and its application to critical care practice. 

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Highlights from the 2019 Symposium program:

Donation after circulatory determination of death is responsible for the largest quantitative increase in deceased donation and transplantation in Canada. This year’s Deceased Donation Symposium will feature presentations on the latest research about the physiology of dying and the impact of withdrawal of life sustaining measures procedures on donation after circulatory determination of death. A panel discussion will highlight some of the tensions – old and new – that surround this type of donation.

Presumed consent In April 2019, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass presumed consent (opt-out) legislation, designed to increase organ and tissue donation. Though countries with deemed consent models generally have higher donation rates, this consent model is only one of the many key components necessary for an optimal organ donation and transplantation system. After a presentation by Phil Walton, the United Kingdom’s deemed consent project lead, we’ll hear Canadian perspectives on what this legislation means, not only for Nova Scotia, but for the rest of the country and whether Canada is really ready for this. 

Medical assistance in dying and organ donation — The legalization of medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada has led to requests for donation after circulatory determination of death from patients who are conscious and competent. The 2019 Deceased Donation Symposium will look at the state of MAID and organ donation today and what it might look like in the future. A donor coordinator who, instead of speaking to substitute decision makers about donation opportunities, is speaking directly to the patient themselves, will describe how and why MAID cases are different from other DCD cases.  

A family perspective — Finally, Randy Tresidder, whose wife was the first person to undergo MAID and organ donation in Nova Scotia, will share his experience and perspectives on MAID and organ donation. The incredible story of Randy’s wife, Dr. Shelly Sarwal, is captured in the documentary film Her Last Project. CCCF attendees will have an opportunity to watch the film on Wednesday, November 13 at 12:30pm. 

https://herlastproject.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/hlp20190913_2.jpg?w=1024

About the Critical Care Canada Forum

The Critical Care Canada Forum is a four-day conference focusing on topics that are relevant to the individuals involved with the care of critically ill patients, wherever the patients are located. Internationally recognized, the Critical Care Canada Forum focuses on leading-edge science through informative and interactive sessions, led by an outstanding international faculty, with poster presentations and exhibits with the latest products and services for the critical care professional.

Did you miss last year’s event? Videos from the 2018 Deceased Donation Symposium at CCCF are available here.


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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Related blog posts


Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Jenny Ryan

Canadian partners bring experts together for two-day Deceased Donation Symposium as part of CCCF


Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Jenny Ryan

Canadian Blood Services, Trillium Gift of Life Network and the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program partnered to host the Deceased Organ Donation Symposium that took place at the Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) on November 7 – 8, 2018. The CCCF is a national forum attended by...


Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Jenny Ryan

The Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) takes place this week in Toronto. The annual event is attended by hundreds of health professionals working in critical care, primarily physicians. A key event within the Forum is an unopposed plenary on brain death determination, to be held on Wednesday, November 7th.

Lay Science Writing Competition open for submissions!


Tuesday, October 01, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Stories underlie all research experiences, and we want to hear them! The 2019 Canadian Blood Services’ Lay Science Writing Competition launches today and is open for submissions until Nov. 29, 2019. This year’s theme is “Stories worth telling”. We’re delighted to once again partner with science communication and research leaders Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia to host this competition. 

This is an opportunity for research trainees in the Canadian Blood Services research network, including those at UBC’s Centre for Blood Research and, new this year, the UBC School of Biomedical Engineering, to test their plain writing skills. Submissions should use clear language to describe “Stories worth telling” in the areas of blood, plasma, stem cells or organs and tissues research. Submissions will be judged not just for their clear language, but also on their use of storytelling or narrative techniques to describe the research and the story behind the research. Consider what elements make a good story. Add a human angle or other details that readers will be able to relate to. Tell us about the people behind the research, the impact of the work, the journey, the emotional highs and lows! 

The winning writer will receive a $300 prize and the two runners-up will each receive a $100 prize. Selected entries will be disseminated through the Canadian Blood Services, Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research's online platforms and social media channels. 

Please note, the work must be original and not previously published. Click here to access the competition guidelines and the application form. If you have questions, please contact the Centre for Innovation by email at centreforinnovation@blood.ca  

The very best of luck! 

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STORIES WORTH TELLING! Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation presents Lay Science Writing Competition 2019-20 Call for Submissions Deadline: November 29, 2019 Use plain language to tell the story of your research in blood, plasma, stem cells or organs & tissues Open to members of the Canadian Blood Services extended research trainee network Find out more at blood.ca/research/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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Thursday, November 15, 2018
Jenny Ryan

Use plain language to tell the story of your research in blood, plasma, stem cells or organs & tissues.


Friday, April 05, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The results of our first-ever Lay Science Writing Competition are in, read-on to discover who gets top-prize and what happens next.


Thursday, April 18, 2019
Dr. Jennie Haw

Dr. Jennie Haw's prize-winning entry in our Lay Science Writing Competition describes research underway to optimize cord blood donor recruitment for the national, public cord blood bank.

Centre for Innovation scientist recognized for his contributions to the field of cryobiology


Thursday, September 19, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Centre for Innovation scientist Dr. Jason Acker was recently inducted as a Fellow of the Society for Cryobiology, a prestigious international award that recognizes individuals who have had an exemplary impact on the field of cryobiology. Congratulations to Dr. Acker, who received this award over the summer at the Society for Cryobiology’s annual meeting in San Diego.

Dr Jason Acker holds his award in front of a banner for the Society for Cryobiology
Dr. Acker with the Basile J. Luyet medal.
What is cryobiology?

The Society for Cryobiology is the international society for low temperature biology and medicine. Cryobiology is the science of life at low temperatures. It includes the study of cells, organs, and tissues exposed to below normal temperatures. Cryobiology has many applications in the fields of transfusion and transplantation medicine. For example, plasma and red blood cells are frozen (cryopreserved) and platelets are stored at hypothermic temperatures so they can be stored for longer. Freeze-drying (lyophilization) is used to preserve plasma and plasma-derived medicines. Organs for transplantation are preserved under cold (hypothermic) conditions. Cryopreservation and lyophilization are not new processes, but they remain imperfect; freezing, thawing, and drying processes can result in cell or tissue damage. This affects that quality of the thawed cells and tissues. Researchers are continually working to better understand and improve cryopreservation processes.

What's Fellowship in the Society for Cryobiology?

Fellowship in the Society for Cryobiology is awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding and sustained impact on the field of cryobiology. Only 27 scientists have been granted this prestigious award, and Dr. Acker is one of only four Canadians to have been inducted as a Fellow in the society’s 55-year history.

Why was Dr. Acker recognized?

Dr. Acker has had a long-standing and enduring interest in the field of cryobiology, in particular cryopreservation, with publications in the area spanning the past two decades. His work has specifically focused on the development of intracellular protectants as a novel class of molecules that can protect cells and tissues during freezing and drying. Ice recrystallization within cells is the cause of much of the damage that occurs with freezing and thawing. Among other advances, Dr. Acker’s research has improved understanding of how these ice crystals form in cells and what can be done to prevent their formation. Dr. Acker and his team have investigated various “cryoprotectant” solutions that can be used to protect cells from the damage associated with cryopreservation.

Recently, together with his colleague Dr. Robert Ben, Dr. Acker has discovered a new way to prevent ice recrystallization in cells. He is currently working to further understand and develop this unique technology. This work may change the way blood products, stem cells and other cells, tissues and organs are stored in the future. Dr. Acker and his group are also interested in investigating the issues associated with cryopreservation and desiccation processes in the large-scale environment of a blood operator.

In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Acker has had extensive and long-standing service to the Society for Cryobiology. As a member since 1996, Dr. Acker served as editor of the society’s newsletter, editorial board member, committee chair, annual meeting co-chair, member of its Board of Governors, and most recently, as president. Through his role as president, Dr. Acker initiated a renewal of the society’s bylaws, committees and working groups, helped establish a permanent secretariat with the hiring of an executive director, and helped redevelop how annual meetings are structured and organized. Dr. Acker was recognized with the society’s highest honour because of his distinguished service to the Society, sustained scientific contributions to the field and his training of the next generation of cryobiologists.

What does this award mean to Dr. Acker?

In Dr. Acker’s own words:

”It is an incredible honour to be inducted as a Fellow of the Society for Cryobiology. I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to a very 'cool' science that has led to improvements in how we store biological materials for use in transfusion medicine, transplantation, biotechnology, and conservation biology. Through all of this I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding group of research collaborators, technicians, students and industrial partners to realize real impacts from our research. The most exciting thing about working in this area of science is that we are just now starting to see the benefits of more than 20 years of research from our group. The future is very exciting!”

 


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, May 22, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Dr. Jason Acker was recently awarded the University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Graduate Student Supervisor Award. We chatted to Dr. Acker to find out what this award means to him.


Thursday, June 07, 2018
Dr. Kendra Hodgkinson

For this instalment of “Meet the researcher”, we met with Dr. Jason Acker, a senior research scientist at Canadian Blood Services who specializes in the manufacturing and storage of blood components. “What gets me up in the morning is the knowledge that through the work of my team and my...


Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Jenny Ryan

Led by Dr. Sandra Ramirez, a development scientist at Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation, this research project led to a new standard that will reduce the number of discarded red blood cell units. By Jenny Ryan and Patrick Walton The issue Since the 1970s, blood operators have limited...

From artificial intelligence to whale poop, and everything in between


Thursday, September 12, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

As Centre for Blood Research (CBR) director Dr. Edward Conway opened Research Day 2019, there was a frisson of nervous tension among the summer studentship trainees sitting in the jam-packed auditorium. These undergraduate students had spent the summer working in the laboratories of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Blood Research (CBR) and School of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Conway reminded them of the format for the afternoon; they would each get just 2.5 minutes to summarize their work for the audience. The squawk of a rubber chicken manned by Kevin the timekeeper would be the warning that their time was up.

And so began the rolling presentations. One after another, the students stood and presented their work on an incredibly diverse range of topics. From understanding the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis to developing microfluidic devices to analyze red blood cell deformability. From the perceived trustworthiness of artificial intelligence in medical decision-making to using social media to effectively communicate science. From 3D printing heart tissue to printing single cells using inkjet nozzles. From designing a low-cost handheld skin cancer detection device to analyzing how pumps for blood transfusions might impact the infused blood. There were thirty-five project presentations in less than two hours. But this daunting agenda delivered. Congratulations to all presenters who did a fantastic job of describing their research and keeping the audience engaged and informed.

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3.	Poster session at the CBR Research Day 2019
Poster session at the CBR Research Day 2019 (courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research)

This year for the first time, the CBR Summer Studentship Program was run in partnership with the School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME), an initiative which contributed to the diversity of topics presented. This partnership is a great fit, as noted by Dr. Conway:

“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to welcome students from the School of Biomedical Engineering into the CBR’s Summer Studentship Program. With rapid developments in technology that contribute to the progress of medicine, constant and effective communication between biomedical engineers and life scientists is essential. I’ve had loads of feedback from this year's summer students, that they enjoyed this chance to “cross-fertilize”… we hope to expand the program!”

After the student presentations, keynote speaker Dave Ireland spoke. Ireland applies his decades of experience as a researcher and teacher to advocate for nature and the conservation of biodiversity. He has worked as a senior curator of conservation and the environment at Toronto Zoo and as the managing director of the Centre for Biodiversity at the Royal Ontario Museum. An advocate of citizen science, Ireland is also the founder of the Ontario BioBlitz, a community-based wildlife survey program that encourages public participation in science. A storyteller and communicator, Ireland asks big questions about how research can effect change in the world.

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2.	Keynote speaker, Dave Ireland, presenting at CBR Research Day 2019.
Keynote speaker Dave Ireland presenting at CBR Research Day 2019 (courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research).

By the end of Ireland’s engaging presentation, the audience had learned how whales and their poop could save the planet. Showing some impressive images of copious whale poop, Ireland described how massive phytoplankton blooms can grow around these discharges in the ocean. Whale poop is the ocean’s fertilizer. It recycles iron, an important nutrient for phytoplankton, the tiny organisms that are a major food source in marine ecologies. Like plants, phytoplankton produce oxygen and sequester carbon – linking whales and the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem directly with our planet's ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

CBR Research Day is the culmination of the Summer Studentship Program, and an opportunity to recognize the hard work of the summer students and all those in the laboratories who trained and supported them. After the talks, there was a poster session during which the summer students as well as graduate students and post-doctoral fellows affiliated with the CBR were given the opportunity to present their work and chat one-on-one with attendees. Prizes were given for the best poster and oral presentations, and the annual Neil Mackenzie Mentorship Excellence Award was presented.

The Centre for Innovation is proud to partner with the CBR on their Summer Studentship Program and to sponsor the CBR Research Day.

Thinking of becoming a summer student yourself?

The CBR-SMBE Summer Studentship Program provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to get hands-on lab experience. The student’s research work is guided by a principal investigator or postdoctoral fellow, and their experience is enhanced through research skills workshops, tours of campus facilities, and complementary social events.

Visit the Centre for Blood Research website for information and application details.

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1.	The summer students with CBR director, Dr. Ed Conway and keynote speaker, Dave Ireland
The summer students with CBR director, Dr. Ed Conway (far right), and keynote speaker, Dave Ireland (middle row, centre). Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.

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, September 11, 2018
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Research day celebrates the end of summer and close of the Centre for Blood Research Summer Studentship Program. This year's keynote speaker, Dr. Farah Alibay, an aerospace engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles spoke of her work on the Mars InSight mission.


Thursday, December 13, 2018
Guest Author

In November, the University of British Columbia Centre for Blood Research (CBR) hosted its 12th annual Earl W. Davie Symposium in Vancouver, BC. During the event, researchers, students, clinicians and patients discussed successes and ongoing challenges in hematology, from understanding basic mechanisms of clotting to improving patient care.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Guest Author

By Sarah Bowers, Undergraduate Student, Brown Lab, Centre for Blood Research This post was originally published on the Centre for Blood Research blog. It has been republished here with permission with minor edits. What is involved in getting blood that has been donated at a mobile clinic in Campbell...

2018-2019 Centre for Innovation annual progress report now available


Thursday, August 15, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Housed within Canadian Blood Services’ Medical Affairs and Innovation division, the Centre for Innovation conducts and supports research, development, and knowledge mobilization to ensure a safe, effective, and responsive blood system. This last year was another outstanding one for the Centre for Innovation – the heart of Canadian Blood Services’ research and development activities – as highlighted in the 2018-2019 annual progress report, which was recently published. 

2018-2019 highlights include: 
  • The Centre for innovation supported 124 investigators across Canada through funding and products for research programs. 
  • The Centre for Innovation’s research and innovation network published 163 peer-reviewed publications, delivered over 300 presentations at local, national, and international conferences, and wrote 26 technical reports to share with Canadian Blood Services and partners to support decision-making. 
  • Research from the Centre for Innovation informed improvements to the monocyte monolayer assay, a test that can help choose the safest blood for hard-to-match patients. These improvements helped develop the assay for use in the clinical laboratory, and it will soon “go live” in the Edmonton diagnostics laboratory.  
  • The Centre for Innovation’s product and process development group supported the introduction of a new platelet pooling set, which received Health Canada approval in 2018-2019. The new platelet pooling set is used during production of platelet components from whole blood donations and results in more consistent platelet yields. 
  • The Centre for Innovation published discovery research linking a plasma protein with platelet clotting and suggesting a new link between diet and heart health. Lead scientist, Dr. Heyu Ni, received a prestigious Canadian Institutes of Health Research Foundation Grant. 

The Centre for Innovation is proud to support Canadian Blood Services’ efforts to continuously improve products and processes and to help every patient, match every need, and serve every Canadian and is honoured to be part of “the connection between the profound discoveries of science and the joyful restoration of health.”  

Learn more about Canadian Blood Services’ mission.  

Read the 2018-2019 Centre for Innovation annual progress report in English or French.

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1.	Members of the Canadian Blood Services research network at the 2018 ISBT Congress in Toronto
Members of the Canadian Blood Services research network at the 2018 ISBT Congress in Toronto.
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2.	Training international students to perform the monocyte monolayer assay. Charlotte Paquet (France), Mairead Holton (Ireland), and Elodie Dupeuble (France) watch Selena Cen (Branch laboratory, Canadian Blood Services) perform the monocyte monolayer assay.
Training international students to perform the monocyte monolayer assay. Charlotte Paquet (France), Mairead Holton (Ireland), and Elodie Dupeuble (France) watch Selena Cen (Branch laboratory, Canadian Blood Services) perform the monocyte monolayer assay.

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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Thursday, January 10, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

#WeDoResearch! Through our Centre for Innovation, our engaged network of scientists, medical experts, partners, and collaborators conduct and disseminate high quality, impactful research for the benefit of Canadian patients and the Canadian healthcare system.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Jenny Ryan

This post is based on the introduction to the report written by Dr. Dana Devine, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, and Judie Leach Bennett, Director, Centre for Innovation. Evaluating value and impact The Centre for Innovation is the organization’s hub for research, education and discovery. Our...

New data report on eye and tissue banking in Canada


Tuesday, August 06, 2019 Catherine Lewis

“It was as if someone had taken a teaspoon of sand, dumped it in my eye, taken their thumb and ground it in, and every once in a while, gave it a little poke with a twig.” That’s how Loreen Hardy-Ramey describes living with Fuchs endothelial dystrophy, a hereditary eye condition.

Without the cornea transplant the Arnprior, Ont. woman received in the summer of 2016, Hardy-Ramey’s pain would have continued as her sight faded.

“I say it was my eightieth birthday present because I received this gift just days after my birthday,” she says. Now she’s looking forward to the birth of her great-grandchild, who she’ll be able to see with both eyes.

A new report from Canadian Blood Services provides insight into eye and tissue banking across Canada. Since 2012, Canadian Blood Services has collected data from all Canadian eye and tissue programs on behalf of the Eye and Tissue Data Committee. The 2017 Canadian Eye and Tissue Banking Statistics report, developed with the support of eye and tissue banks across Canada, is the first one where five consecutive years of data are available. This ongoing accumulation of data allows for new insight into provincial and national trends.

Eye and tissues for donation include corneas and other eye tissues, bone, skin, heart tissues, tendons and other musculoskeletal tissues. Depending on the tissue, they can be collected from deceased or living donors.This report presents data on eye and tissues and does not include data on organ donation.

With the data contained in this report, provincial eye and tissue programs can better understand what’s happening in their region and use this understanding to inform how they operate. National organizations use this data to shape their discussions on national practice and policy.

The data also has the potential to support future research by providing a broad dataset to work with. Looking at the data from different provinces can also offer insight into potential ways to share knowledge and resources, while also providing a more nuanced understanding of provincial demand and reliance on internationally-sourced grafts. 

 

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Loreen Hardy-Ramey, a woman in her eighties, stands beside her husband Noel.
Loreen Hardy-Ramey, a cornea recipient from Arnprior, Ont., with her husband Noel.

In 2017…

  • Canadian eye banks distributed 3,820 corneas for transplant
  • Canadian tissue banks distributed 12,652 musculoskeletal, cardiac and skin grafts for transplant
  • Tissue was recovered from more than 4,500 deceased donors and 294 living donors
  • Canadian eye and tissue banks received more than 50,000 deceased donor referrals for potential tissue donation

 

 

 

 


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, June 25, 2019
Jenny Ryan

A new publication in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) aims to help health care teams navigate clinical issues surrounding organ and tissue donation by patients who choose to donate after medical assistance in dying (MAID) or withdrawal of life-sustaining measures. In collaboration with...


Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Marco Ouji

Documentary brings to the screen the lasting impact and major importance of organ donation across the country.


Friday, April 28, 2017
Jenny Ryan

Every day in Canada, more than 4,600 people are waiting for news that a donor has been found. Everad Tilokee shares his transplant journey during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.

Stories worth sharing: Effectively communicating “Research that matters!”


Thursday, July 04, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Highlighting a recent blog post from Science Borealis, this “stories worth sharing” post gives background on the welcome support the Centre for Innovation’s 2018 Lay Science Writing Competition received from two key partners. 

The Centre for Blood Research (CBR) and the Centre for Innovation have a long-standing relationship. We partner regularly to deliver training and education events. The CBR helped to develop the competition and promoted it to their large network of trainees, support that helped guarantee that this inaugural competition ran smoothly and successfully.  

The Centre for Innovation also looked to Science Borealis, Canada’s leading national community of science writers and communicators, to lend their expertise as science communicators and champions of science communication in Canada. It was a pleasure to receive support from Science Borealis, and to work with Lené Gary, its general sciences editor, who supported the competition process.  

To learn more, read Gary's post about the competition, originally published on the Borealis Blog in June 2019.


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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Related blog posts


Friday, April 05, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The results of our first-ever Lay Science Writing Competition are in, read-on to discover who gets top-prize and what happens next.


Thursday, November 15, 2018
Jenny Ryan

Use plain language to tell the story of your research in blood, plasma, stem cells or organs & tissues.


Thursday, April 18, 2019
Dr. Jennie Haw

Dr. Jennie Haw's prize-winning entry in our Lay Science Writing Competition describes research underway to optimize cord blood donor recruitment for the national, public cord blood bank.