Advancing Blood Safety Worldwide

The Research Institute is dedicated to advancing blood safety worldwide through scientific research, education and the promotion of evidence-based policies.


    Established more than 50 years ago, the Research Institute has become a world-renowned institute engaged in research ranging from blood donor epidemiology to cellular therapy to virus discovery.


    The Research Institute has state-of-the-art equipment to support research related to blood and blood product safety in the areas of molecular biology, immunology, virology, tissue culture, cell processing and epidemiology


    The Research Institute supports the education and training of the next generation of researchers through fellowships, internships, mentoring and classes conducted in San Francisco and around the world.

Latest News


Red blood cells’ shelf life might depend on donor’s genes


Dr. Michael Busch principal investigator for the RBC-Omics Study, and his partners at RTI and NHLBI provided a summary of the study’s early findings. The study investigates genetic variations in donors and its’ effects on blood storage and cell function. These findings might open the door to a future in which donor genotype is taken into account. Read more about the research here.

Pillai discusses new era for HIV research


In a recent article published by The Guardian, Dr. Pillai discusses how HIV-infected cells are able to ‘hide’ in the body, and are now being identified and destroyed in a novel strategy. This strategy for finding and destroying this last reservoir of hiding cells could be the key –or holy grail – to eradicating the virus. Read more about the research here.

Tran Receives AABB Top Poster Award

Tran Receives AABB Top Poster Award


Dr. Johnson Tran, of Dr. Jackman's lab, received the award for Top Poster at the annual AABB Conference held in Boston. The presentation abstract titled, “Pathogen Reduction of Platelet Rich Plasma Abrogates T Cell Alloresponse in Mice” demonstrated how allogeneic CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation and effector responses were significantly diminished after pathogen reduction with UV+R treatment. Read more about the AABB Conference here.

CHIKV inihibited by neutralizing antibodies

CHIKV inihibited by neutralizing antibodies


In the recent issue of Cell Host & Microbe, Dr. Jin et al report that some anti-CHIKV neutralizing mAbs inhibit the budding step of the CHIKV replication cycle by inducing crosslinking of viral GPs at the PM. It is demonstrated that anti-CHIKV neutralizing mAbs crosslink viral GPs at the PM of infected cells, preventing envelopment of nucleocapsids and causing the accumulation of arrested nucleocapsids in the cytosol.   Watch here

Roubinian Receives ECDHM Best Oral Abstract Award

Roubinian Receives ECDHM Best Oral Abstract Award


Dr. Roubinian receives the award for Best Oral Abstract Presentation at the European Donor Health and Outcomes Congress in Copenhagen.   The presentation abstract titled, “Influence of Donor, Component, and Recipient Factors on Efficacy of Erythrocyte Transfusions” examined the role of blood donor, component and transfusion recipient factors on hemoglobin increments following red blood cell transfusion.  Read more about the ECDHM Congress here. 

Busch granted the 2018 IPFA Award


Dr. Busch received the first annual IPFA Award at the 25th International Workshop held in Athens, Greece to recognize his exceptional scientific contributions to the study and prevention of Transfusion Transmitted Infections. Read more about the award and the selection process here.

Busch granted the 2018 ISBT Presidential Award


The International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) has recently announced that the Foundation of Transfusion Medicine has granted the ISBT Presidential Award to Dr. Michael Busch, the Director of BSRI. This award is granted to those who have made eminent contributions to transfusion medicine through original research, the practice of transfusion therapy and significant service contributions to the field. Read more about the award and the selection process here

Protective Immune Responses for Ebola survivors 40 years later


In collaboration with UCLA, NIH and scientists within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we have recently demonstrated that survivors of the first recorded outbreak of Ebola virus maintain potent protective immune responses over 40 years after infection. The BSRI Simmons Lab performed serological analysis for evidence of Ebola infection. Multiple serological assays such as ELISA were utilized for multiple virus proteins and algorithms for determining reactivity based on more than one assay. Read more about the serological assays developed for Ebola here

Blood Donations for Disease Research


In a recent interview, Michael Busch discusses the FDA and CDC’s decision to require Zika testing for all blood donors. Those donations infected with Zika are flagged, and the nationwide testing allowed Busch and his team to pull samples and follow up with donors to try to enroll them in research studies, such as REDS-III Zika, helping to further assure the safety of the nation’s blood supply.

Using Biomarkers from HIV Patients to Find a Cure


Dr. Satish Pillai and collaborators from the Gladstone Institutes, Stanford, UCSF, and Johns Hopkins University are taking on the challenge of identifying biomarkers that could speed up the development of a cure for HIV-infected individuals.  To find biomarkers, the researchers will use banked blood and plasma samples from HIV-infected volunteers who participated in various clinical trials.

[Image posted with permission from Gladstone Institutes]

Deferral Policy for MSM Donors: Early Effects


Dr. Custer discusses the early effects of the FDA’s policy change observed within BSI blood centers from an indefinite donor deferral to a 1-year deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM).  In this preliminary analysis, while the sample size is small, as expected the early data suggest higher rates of prevalent infection in some first time MSM donors.  Longer periods of post-implementation data collection are necessary to be able to answer the most important question of whether there has been any change in the residual risk of infections in donated blood.

[Image posted with permission from AABB]


Custer Receives 2017 Hemphill-Jordan Leadership Award


Dr. Custer received the 2017 Hemphill-Jordan Leadership Award at the AABB annual meeting for his long-term contributions to blood safety research since 2003, and his significant influence in helping U.S. policy-makers revise and set blood donation regulations. Through his consistent willingness to lend expertise and mentorship to colleagues and peers around the world, Custer was a worthy recipient for the award that honors leaders in transfusion medicine and cellular therapy.

[Image posted with permission from AABB]

Hologic’s Panther System at BSRI for HIV Research


Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI) today announced a collaboration to more precisely and efficiently measure the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) latent reservoir in clinical samples using the Panther system from Hologic, Inc. – a fully automated molecular diagnostics platform that provides test consolidation, random-access sample loading, and proven assay chemistry.

ABC Newsletter on TACO Studies


Edward Murphy, MD, MPH, and Nareg Roubinian, MD, MPHTM, have been leading the Severe Transfusion Reactions including Pulmonary Edema (STRIPE), as part of REDS-III. STRIPE, a case-control study, examines both transfusion and clinical data to better characterize risk factors and outcomes for Transfusion-Associated Circulatory Overload (TACO).   In addition, the STRIPE study includes biospecimen collection to allow study of cytokines and other biomarkers in the diagnosis and pathogenesis of TACO.

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