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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
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.