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Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Dr. Geraldine Walsh is a scientific writer with the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation. A PhD scientist with a passion for communication, Geraldine supports Canadian Blood Services’ research and development scientists with writing, editing and preparing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Geraldine was captivated by the fascinating topic of blood during her graduate studies at The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (in Dublin, her hometown). During her PhD, she studied blood platelets, the little cell fragments that maintain the delicate balance between clotting and bleeding in our bodies. Today, her role as scientific writer allows her to combine a love of science with a love of writing and a real dedication to quality science communication.

Canadian Blood Services scientist Alan Lazarus honoured by the Canadian transfusion community


Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Like many in the Canadian transfusion medicine community, Dr. Alan Lazarus should be travelling to Montreal, QC this week to attend the now cancelled Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine 2020 conference. Not being able to gather together with colleagues this year must be especially bittersweet for Dr. Lazarus, who is the recipient of the 2020 Ortho Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual who has provided a major service or innovation in transfusion medicine.

Dr. Lazarus is a senior scientist at Canadian Blood Services, and a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, a scientist at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, a staff scientist in the department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology at St. Michael’s Hospital. He is being honoured for his extensive research work to understand the mechanism of action of IVIg in disease. Dr. Lazarus’ work in this area over the past two decades has helped advance our understanding of how IVIg, a biological drug derived from the plasma of thousands of blood donors, works in immune thrombocytopenia and other immune disorders. He has also done extensive research to find alternatives to IVIg, an expensive and in-demand therapy. Dr. Lazarus has recently shown that monoclonal antibodies that mimic anti-D may be effective in autoimmune diseases, which are often treated with IVIg. This indicates their potential to be developed as alternative treatments, which might reduce the use of IVIg. Dr. Lazarus holds several patents and has published dozens of highly-cited peer-reviewed publications.  

In Montreal, Dr. Lazarus would have had the opportunity to give an award talk, receive the award in person and celebrate with his colleagues. I reached out to Dr. Lazarus at his home in Toronto to ask what he is working on now and how he plans to celebrate his award.

Dr. Alan Lazarus
Dr. Alan Lazarus, 2020 Ortho Award recipient

What are you working on right now?

“I am continuing my work related to replacing IVIg with monoclonal antibodies. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, my laboratory is currently shut. However, we’re in the planning stages of some exciting research. We are hoping to bring our laboratory’s expertise with antibodies and immunology to bear to further understanding of COVID-19.

We plan to investigate how antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the virus that causes COVID-19 – might mediate antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. Antibody-dependent enhancement is a phenomenon in which the antibodies produced to fight a virus lead to an increase in disease severity, rather than providing protection. This phenomenon occurs with many viruses, including dengue virus and SARS-CoV-2's close relatives in the coronavirus family, MERS and SARS-CoV-1 (the viruses that cause Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and SARS, respectively). It may help explain why the severity of COVID-19 disease varies widely; some patients have only a mild infection, while others become critically ill. We plan to investigate this phenomenon with SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting to better understand the disease and inform the development of vaccines and therapies such as convalescent plasma.”

How will you celebrate winning the Ortho Award?

“I never really thought about celebrating, I think I’ll have a beer on my front porch!”

I think a beer is very well-deserved! Congratulations again to Dr. Lazarus!

CSTM is hoping to host a virtual Ortho Award lecture. Keep an eye on the CSTM website news for an announcement.

Dr. Lazarus joins a distinguished list of Canadian Blood Services’ colleagues who are past recipients of this honour:

Dr. Donald Branch (2003)

Dr. Morris Blajchman (2004)

Dr. Mindy Goldman (2005)

Dr. Debra Lane (2013)

Dr. Dana Devine (2015)

Dr. Jason Acker (2017)

In 2015, Dr. Lazarus was honoured by the AABB with the Tobor Greenwalt Memorial Award and Lectureship which recognized his outstanding contributions transfusion medicine.



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, August 29, 2019
Catherine Lewis

A treatment now used to fight two diseases might have the potential to help patients with other conditions, too, according to new research funded by Canadian Blood Services.


Thursday, November 07, 2019
Catherine Lewis

Last month, Dr. Donald Branch, a scientist at Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation and professor at the University of Toronto, received a prestigious international award honouring his more than 40 years of major contributions to transfusion medicine and hematology.


Thursday, July 18, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine’s annual conference took place in Calgary, Alberta in early June. The Centre for Innovation’s Geraldine Walsh was there and shares her highlights.

Funding awarded to research and education innovators


Thursday, April 02, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Through the BloodTechNet Award Program, Canadian Blood Services supports the development of innovative educational projects that network the transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation communities in Canada.

Congratulations to the recent BloodTechNet Award Program recipients:

  • Warren Fingrut (University of British Columbia) 
  • Eric Wagner (CHU de Québec-Université Laval-CHUL) 

These projects will deliver educational tools and resources that support the development of skills, knowledge and expertise of health professionals. Warren Fingrut’s project will develop an educational toolkit for health professionals about blood and stem cell donation in Canada for men who have sex with men (MSM). This toolkit will equip health professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to support stem cell drives at Pride events across Canada and engage MSM to register as stem cell donors. Eric Wagner’s project will support training of directors of histocompatibility and immunogenetics (HLA) laboratories, whose work is essential in supporting transplant activities throughout Canada.

  • Learn more about the innovative tools and resources developed through the BloodTechNet funding program here.

Through the Graduate Fellowship Program, Canadian Blood Services provides stipend support for young investigators who want to initiate or continue training in the field of transfusion science. Graduate students undertaking full-time research training in a Canadian institution are eligible. The Program provides support for a maximum of four years, with a requirement for successful renewal half way through the fellowship.

Congratulations to the recent Graduate Fellowship Program recipients:

  • Anna Ampaw (Ben lab, Ottawa, ON) 
  • Leah McMunn (Ben lab, Ottawa, ON) 
  • Melika Loriamini (Branch lab, Canadian Blood Services, Toronto, ON) 
  • Wayne Zhao (Devine lab, Canadian Blood Services, Vancouver, BC) 

Melika Loriamini and Leah McMunn are new recipients of graduate fellowships. Melika Loriamini will be investigating alternative therapies to intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), an expensive therapy derived from human plasma. Melika will be studying in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Branch, a Canadian Blood Services senior scientist. Leah McMunn’s work will focus on improving cryopreservation techniques for red blood cells. Leah will be studying in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Ben, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist.

Anna Ampaw and Wayne Zhao’s Graduate Fellowship Program awards were renewed. Anna Ampaw is also working with Dr. Robert Ben to improve red blood cell cryopreservation. Wayne Zhao is based in the laboratory of Dr. Dana Devine, Canadian Blood Services’ Chief Scientist. Wayne is investigating the cold storage of platelets. Platelets are usually stored at room temperature. Storing platelets in the cold can extend their shelf life and there is growing interest in using cold-stored platelets for certain patients (e.g. trauma patients).

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

Both the BloodTechNet Award Program and the Graduate Fellowship Program are currently closed to applications but will re-open in Fall 2020. To learn more about the eligibility criteria for these Programs, visit our research funding opportunities page.


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, April 05, 2017
Jenny Ryan

Canadian Blood Services' Graduate Fellowship Program provides support for young investigators who want to initiate or continue training in the field of transfusion science. Graduate students undertaking full-time research training at a Canadian academic institution are invited to apply. The...


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.


Monday, July 23, 2018
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

At the 35th Congress of the International Society for Blood Transfusion (ISBT), members of our network gathered to share their knowledge and exciting new educational resources.

Improving a quality test for cord blood samples


Thursday, February 27, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Cord blood — the blood left in the umbilical cord after a baby is born — is a rich and important source of stem cells for transplantation. Stem cell transplants are used to treat more than 80 diseases and disorders, including blood cell cancers such as leukemia. The national Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank collects, processes and freezes cord blood units. These units are available to any patient worldwide who needs a stem cell transplant and finds a match in the bank. 

Recent research conducted by the Centre for Innovation and Canadian Blood Services Cord Blood Bank and stem cell manufacturing sought to improve pre-transplant quality tests of thawed cord blood samples. These tests are important as they are used to make decisions about whether the cord blood unit will be suitable for transplantation.

The study, “Overcoming the deceptively low viability of CD45+ cells in thawed cord blood unit segments” was published in November 2019 in Vox Sanguinis.  

The study findings suggest ways to improve the quality test procedure so that the results produced better reflect the quality of the cord blood unit to be transplanted. This could increase the number of cord blood units that can be released for transplantation by reducing the number of cord blood units that fail quality tests.

To learn more about the study, read our latest Research Unit.


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, July 19, 2019
Obinna Okwelume

Dr. Nicolas Pineault speaks about his passion for stem cell research, and the exciting new projects he’s currently engaged in.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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Dr. Pineault and his team are working on a cellular therapy to improve engraftment (the process through which new blood-forming cells start to develop in the patient) following cord blood stem cell transplantation.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Jenny Ryan

July marks Cord Blood Awareness Month in certain places around the world. In homage to this important campaign we collected a few related stories from the RED archives and share a bit more information about why Cord Blood matters. Cord blood stem cells can be used in the treatment of more than 80...

Lay Science Writing Competition winner: A story worth telling


Thursday, February 20, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

After the success of last year’s inaugural Canadian Blood Services’ Lay Science Writing Competition, we couldn’t wait to do it again!  

The Centre for Innovation was 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 time around, we asked our research trainees to send us “Stories worth telling” in the areas of blood, plasma, stem cells or organs and tissues research. We challenged them to tell us about the people behind the research, the impact of the work, the journey, and the emotional highs and lows. The winning entry did not disappoint.  

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 winner, Dr. Aditi Khandelwal

Dr. Aditi Khandelwal
Dr. Aditi Khandelwal 

Dr. Khandelwal is a member of the University of Toronto Quality in Utilization, Education and Safety in Transfusion (QUEST) research program, which receives funding support from Canadian Blood Services (Transfusion Medicine Research Program Support Award). Dr. Khandelwal wins a $300 cash prize and the honour of being our 2019-2020 winner. 

Dr. Khandelwal’s winning entry is a moving story that describes how her research and professional life intersected with her personal life during an emotional moment. Intrigued? We’ll publish Dr. Khandelwal's winning entry here on R.E.D. blog next week Don't miss it! 

Winners of previous Lay Science Writing Competitions 

The winning entry and runners up in last year’s Lay Science Writing Competition were also published on R.E.D. blog. You can find them here: 

The 2019-2020 Canadian Blood Services Lay Science Writing Competition was organized by the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation with welcome support from Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia.


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, 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.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Lily Park

Lily Park’s entry was awarded 2nd place in our Lay Science Writing Competition. It describes research by a group at The Ottawa Hospital to improve patient outcomes following liver surgery, while reducing blood loss and the need for blood transfusion.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Heather VanderMeulen

Red blood cells are like delivery trucks that deliver oxygen to the vital organs in our body. Iron is the flatbed of the truck which holds the oxygen in place. Our body loses iron when we lose blood, and women are at the highest risk for low iron since blood is lost monthly during childbearing years. Dr. Heather VanderMeulen’s joint 3rd place entry to our Lay Science Writing Competition dissects these issues.

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...


Thursday, September 26, 2019
Catherine Lewis

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...


Monday, May 13, 2019
Obinna Okwelume

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.

Earl W. Davie Symposium – 13 years of inspiration


Thursday, December 19, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Since its inauguration in 2007, I have had the pleasure of attending almost all Earl W. Davie Symposia. Both this event and the annual Norman Bethune Symposium are cornerstones of the academic calendar at the Centre for Blood Research, a multidisciplinary biomedical research institute in Vancouver, BC, which conducts innovative research in blood and blood-related processes.

Dr. Davie, in whose honour this symposium is held, is truly a giant in the world of biochemistry and blood coagulation. His research to understand the proteins involved in blood coagulation led him to be one of the first scientists to describe how blood clots. This work was published in a seminal paper in the journal Science in 1964. Dr. Davie’s work in the field continued and his contributions to advancing understanding of blood clotting, disorders related to clotting (e.g. hemophilia) and to developing therapies are immense.

Dr. Earl W. Davie (left) enjoying presentations at the 13th annual Earl W. Davie Symposium in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)
Dr. Earl W. Davie (left) enjoying presentations at the 13th annual Earl W. Davie Symposium in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)

Despite a career spanning seven decades it seems Dr. Davie’s interest in the field of protein biochemistry and blood coagulation has not waned. He is a member of the US National Academy of Science and a Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. The now 92-year-old has attended almost all the symposia held in his honour, making the journey from Seattle to Vancouver. He missed the 2018 symposium due to ill health, so it was especially wonderful to see him in Vancouver this year.

The lineup of presenters for the 2019 symposium was impressive. To read a more detailed account of the presentations, please visit the Centre for Blood Research's blog

(L-R): Dr. Ross MacGillivray, a founder of the Centre for Blood Research and a former student of Dr. Davie’s, with Dr. Davie, Jim Davie (Dr. Davie’s son), and Dr. Dominic Chung, also a former student of Dr. Davie. (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)
(L-R): Dr. Ross MacGillivray, a founder of the Centre for Blood Research and a former student of Dr. Davie’s, with Dr. Davie, Jim Davie (Dr. Davie’s son), and Dr. Dominic Chung, also a former student of Dr. Davie. (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)

My highlights of the 2019 symposium included the talk by Dr. David Lillicrap (Queen’s University), recipient of the first-ever Naiman-Vickars Professorship. Dr. Lillicrap began with some historical perspectives on hemophilia therapy. Advances over the past decades mean therapies for hemophilia are safe and generally effective, but there are drawbacks – current treatments are inconvenient, can cause immune reactions, and are expensive and not accessible to everyone. Dr. Lillicrap described ongoing innovations in this field, including gene therapy, cellular therapy and engineering approaches, which are heralding several promising new and improved therapies - the future of hemophilia care.

Dr. Joseph Italiano’s (Harvard) presentation on the production of platelets was fascinating. Platelets are small cellular fragments that are central to blood clotting. Dr. Italiano’s work to understand how platelets are produced in the body is informing efforts (with the company Platelet Biogenesis) to produce functional bio-engineered human platelets outside the body.  

My final highlight was Dr. Nigel Mackman’s (UNC Chapel Hill) presentation about coagulation defects associated with cancer. Dr. Mackman explained that cancer patients are at a 4- to 7-fold increased risk of thrombosis – inappropriate clotting in the blood vessels that can lead to pulmonary embolism, heart attacks, or stroke. Dr. Mackman is working to understand why this is the case and look for markers that could be used to determine which patients are most at risk.

ttendees discuss posters during the 13th annual Earl W. Davie Symposium.
Attendees discuss posters during the 13th annual Earl W. Davie Symposium. (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)

What is always evident at this symposium is the continued impact of Dr. Davie’s work on the field. Every year, we hear how Dr. Davie’s research and discoveries remain relevant and continue to inform the work of other experts as they try to answer critical questions in coagulation and improve therapies for patients. This, to me, is the ultimate testament to the remarkable body of work generated by Dr. Davie over the course of his career.

The Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia hosts three Canadian Blood Services scientists and affiliated staff, postdoctoral fellows and students. Canadian Blood Services and the Centre for Innovation are proud to partner with the Centre for Blood Research to deliver training and education events including the annual Earl W. Davie Symposium.


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, 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, December 06, 2017
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Drs. Earl W. Davie, Ross T. MacGillivray and Edmond H. Fischer at the 2017 Earl W. Davie Symposium Vancouver. Read all about this years event and find out more about the inspiration behind it.


Thursday, May 17, 2018
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

On April 10th, 2018, the Centre for Blood Research presented its 8th Annual Norman Bethune Symposium. This event honours Canadian physician, Dr. Norman Bethune, who in the 1930s spearheaded the implementation of the earliest practical mobile blood collection and distribution systems. Image During...

From whole blood to blood components…and back again!


Thursday, December 05, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh
Image
whole blood bag

 

What’s old is new again. Recent research has shown that whole blood may be the best fluid to replace what’s being lost in actively bleeding patients. However, for the past 50 or so years, whole blood for transfusion has not been readily available in Canada or many other countries. To support the (re)-introduction of this product to the Canadian Blood Services formulary, the Centre for Innovation’s product and process development group, under the leadership of Ken McTaggart, has been working to understand this product and the optimal processes to produce and store it. How did we get here? A quick recap of the history of blood transfusion will help explain.

Necessity is the mother of invention

The history of blood transfusion is intimately linked with efforts to save the lives of soldiers, particularly during the First World War. The types of injuries sustained by soldiers on the front lines of conflict can be horrific and quickly lead to “traumatic hemorrhagic shock” – massive and potentially fatal blood loss. Fluid resuscitation – replacing the lost fluid – is necessary to save patients with shock. During the First World War, fluid resuscitation was often done using saline solution or other colloid solutions.

The introduction of citrated whole blood was an important early innovation in blood banking that took place during the First World War. Citrate is an anticoagulant – it prevents blood from clotting. Adding it to whole blood allowed the donor and the patient to be separated in time and space for the first time. Canadian physician L. Bruce Robertson was a pioneer of this approach. He drew blood from donors, added citrate and stored the blood in one-litre glass bottles. The blood could be stored for several days, and the bottles packed in boxes with sawdust and ice and sent to the front lines for transfusion to casualties.

For the next 50 years after the First World War, citrated whole blood was the standard transfusion product provided for patients in military and civilian settings.

The era of blood component therapy

In the 1960s, another innovation heralded a dramatic change in blood banking and blood transfusion. The advent of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) “plastic” containers and closed sterile sets of tubing ushered in the era of blood component therapy. This led to a big shift in the way blood was processed and transfused to patients. Blood could now be separated into its components – red blood cells, plasma and platelets. This brought many advantages. The components can be stored separately using the optimal storage conditions and shelf lives for each component. A single blood donation can be made into several products and can help more patients. Patients can be given just the component they needed, which reduces the risk of adverse reactions.

Finding balance

Component therapy has remained the standard of care in almost all clinical situations for the past 50 years, including trauma. Blood components, as well as crystalloids and colloids, became standard therapy for patients with active bleeding. There were, however, some drawbacks with early approaches following the shift away from whole blood transfusion. This led to a shift in recent years to a new standard-of-care approach: balanced transfusion of components for patients who are actively bleeding. In many trauma centres, these “massive transfusion protocols” give plasma, platelets, and red blood cells in a balanced 1:1:1 or 1:1:2 ratio.

Recognizing the limits

Even more recently, there’s been growing recognition that adherence to these massive transfusion protocols can be difficult or impossible. For the military, the different storage requirements for each component and other logistical challenges make it difficult to provide the components where they are needed. In rural or remote civilian trauma centres, platelets are rarely available, and plasma, if available, needs to be thawed which takes time. Even in large urban centres, the necessity of multiple components, which means multiple fridges/freezers, multiple bags, and overall a highly complex protocol, can lead to challenges. These constraints are especially important when you consider that for patients suffering from traumatic hemorrhagic shock, time is critical. The window to save these patients’ lives is counted in minutes, not hours.

What’s old is new again

Recent research has shown that the optimal fluid to replace what’s being lost by actively bleeding patients is likely whole blood. Transfusing whole blood increases the fluid volume, while treating the loss of oxygen and helping to promote blood clotting. It simplifies the resuscitation efforts, particularly in austere, pre-hospital or military environments. Clinical evidence has shown that whole blood is no worse than, and is perhaps better than, current trauma protocols. Even more promising, if the whole blood is stored cold before transfusion, it appears to have an equal or better effect on bleeding than component therapy, which uses platelets stored at room temperature.

Why the need for research?

Despite it not being a new approach, there are many questions that need to be answered to successfully re-introduce whole blood to the formulary. Since whole blood was last used, it has become standard practice to leukoreduce components. This is a process that removes white blood cells from blood components and increases their safety by reducing the risk of adverse reactions. Questions remain about how best to incorporate leukoreduction into the whole blood production process. There are also questions about how long whole blood can be stored.

Another critical question is which whole blood product should be produced. Component therapy allows for “universal” components to be made available – components that can be transfused to anyone (i.e.: AB plasma or O red blood cells). There is, however, is no “universal” whole blood. This could be a drawback, especially because whole blood will be used in trauma situations where time is critical and the patient’s blood type might not be known. There are, however, blood types that are more suitable for transfusion to many, and these need to be investigated and better understood.

Want to learn more?

Look out for our next “D is for Development” post (coming early 2020) to learn more about the Centre for Innovation’s research work to support the reintroduction of whole blood for transfusion.

Previous posts in the D is for Development series:

From the AABB: Key dates in blood transfusion history


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, July 27, 2016
Jenny Ryan

“It’s a Canadian tradition to push blood as far forward as possible in the safest possible way.” There’s a long, rich history of military blood transfusion and Canadians have been at the front and centre of this field since WWI. Getting blood where it’s most needed is a challenge at the best of...


Thursday, June 29, 2017
Amanda Maxwell

Innovation150 series: As Canada celebrates 150 years we look back on Canadian innovations in transfusion medicine over the years. A series of posts over the next few weeks feature remarkable Canadian progress -- past, present and future. #Innovation150.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Amanda Maxwell

Innovation150 series on the RED blog: As Canada celebrates 150 years we look back on Canadian innovations in transfusion medicine over the years. A series of posts over the next few weeks feature remarkable Canadian progress in transfusion medicine past, present and future. #Innovation150.

Centre for Innovation awards funding to support young researchers and improve blood product use


Friday, November 29, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The Canadian Blood Services Centre for Innovation recently awarded successful applicants to the following funding competitions: 

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program offers salary support for young investigators. Congratulations to the successful candidates:  

  • Dr. Ruqayyah Almizraq (University of Toronto, training in Dr. Donald Branch’s laboratory): “Development of a drug to replace IVIg, and ADCC as cause for unexplained hemolysis post-transfusion” 

  • Dr. Yfke Pasman (St. Michael’s Hospital; training in Dr. Heyu Ni’s laboratory): “Reducing IVIG usage by developing novel prophylaxis and therapies against FNAIT” 

The Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program (or BEAP) aims to improve the efficient and appropriate utilization of blood products, while maintaining the safety of the blood system. Congratulations to the successful candidates: 

  • Dr. Dana Devine (Canadian Blood Services & The University of British Columbia): “Measurement of heavy metals in donor blood in Canada” 

  • Dr. Donald Arnold (McMaster University & McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research): “A study to understand C1 Esterase Inhibitor distribution and patterns of use in Canada” 

  • Dr. Ziad Solh (Western University): “Are cervical cancer brachytherapy outcomes associated with pre-brachytherapy hemoglobin values and transfusion practice? An observational study comparing two academic centres” 

Learn more about our current and previously funded research projects here

Call for applications! 

Do you have an idea that might improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood products? The BEAP competition is currently open with a deadline for receipt of applications of January 24, 2020. 

Coming soon! Keep an eye on our research funding opportunities page for the opening of the latest Intramural Research Grant Program competition (announcement expected mid-December 2019). 

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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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, 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...


Thursday, May 11, 2017
Jenny Ryan

Ruqayyah Almizraq became interested in science because "it is like a magic window that opens up a whole new world."

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...