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.

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! 

Image
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
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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...

Research supports equipment change and process improvements


Thursday, August 22, 2019 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Two pieces of equipment at the core of our component manufacturing process were recently replaced: the centrifuge, used to spin blood into layers of components; and the blood extractor, used to separate these layers. This was a necessary change as the old equipment was nearing end-of-life. In late Spring 2019, the process of rolling out this new equipment at sites across the country was completed, representing the culmination of several years of work by many groups at Canadian Blood Services.

Back in 2016, a Request for Proposals led to the selection of potential new equipment. Supply chain and the Centre for Innovation’s product and process development group then collaborated to test the equipment at the Centre for Innovation’s Blood4Research facility in Vancouver.

The group initially assessed how useful and effective the potential equipment would be, including its suitability to fit Canadian Blood Services’ component manufacturing processes. They then determined the best centrifuge and extractor settings to balance product quality with process efficiency. To do this, the product and process development group worked closely with supply chain to design and conduct a series of studies that tested various settings and their impact on product quality. This was a complex undertaking. Canadian Blood Services uses two different component manufacturing processes which produce several component types (including red blood cells, plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitate plasma), and all processes and products needed to be assessed to be confident that product quality could be maintained or improved with the change in equipment.

Learn more about Canadian Blood Services component manufacturing processes here.

The equipment change was leveraged as an opportunity to improve component manufacturing processes, including efficiency and staff ergonomics. Two front-line production staff were brought to Vancouver to assess the usability and ergonomics of the equipment, and to determine the value of the equipment’s new features (e.g. automatic canula breakers). Their feedback was essential in helping choose the equipment that is now being used across the country.

Other opportunities for process improvement were also sought. For example, centrifuge inserts safeguard the whole blood collection bags while they are being centrifuged. Working with an industry partner, the product and process development group developed a more durable and easy-to-wash centrifuge insert made of silicone to replace the older inserts which were foam-based and less durable.

As part of the equipment change, the way Canadian Blood Services produce platelets from whole blood was also streamlined. Several tedious rinsing and mixing steps were eliminated. This new “One Rinse No Mix” pooling method had originally been tested by the product and process development group a few years earlier and was further assessed and adopted for implementation along with the new equipment. This improved method saves staff time and ergonomic strain.

Once the new equipment was chosen, settings and procedures were further fine-tuned to maximize the equipment’s capabilities. Confirmation studies compared the quality of products manufactured using the new equipment to historical quality control data to ensure products continued to be of the highest quality. This work drew on expertise from across the Centre for Innovation and the organization, with products tested at the Blood4Research facility in Vancouver, Centre for Innovation laboratories in Vancouver and Hamilton, and the Canadian Blood Services’ national testing laboratories in Ottawa and Brampton.

The findings from the product and process development group’s assessments provided the evidence needed to choose new equipment while maintaining confidence in the quality of the products provided to hospitals for patients. Supply chain then worked to validate the equipment, processes, and procedures in a real-world production environment, including revising or creating standard operating procedures for component processing. The evidence gathered through these efforts supported a submission to Health Canada to make a change to Canadian Blood Services’ component production procedures and processes. Health Canada approved this submission in April 2018, and the long road towards organization-wide implementation by supply chain began.

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Old foam-based centrifuge inserts (left) and longer-lasting silicon inserts (right).
Old foam-based centrifuge inserts (left) and longer-lasting silicon inserts (right).
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Whole blood unit separated into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells
A whole blood unit following centrifugation on the new equipment during equipment testing at the Vancouver Blood4Research facility.
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three units shown on left of photo) and centrifuge (on the right) in the Canadian Blood Services manufacturing site in Brampton, ON
The new blood extractors (three units shown on left of photo) and centrifuge (on the right) in the Canadian Blood Services manufacturing site in Brampton, ON. (Photo credit: Susan White)

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, February 22, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Welcome to our new R.E.D. blog series where we focus on our Centre for Innovation development projects to give you a glimpse into the future of blood banking... our future!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Located in Vancouver, BC, near the University of British Columbia campus, our blood for research facility comprises a whole blood and apheresis donor clinic as well as a research and production laboratory.


Thursday, February 14, 2019
Ross FitzGerald

As part of a larger ongoing effort to develop non-invasive technologies to monitor blood products during storage, researchers have developed a new technique to assess the quality of blood without breaching the sterility of blood bags.

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...