Brian S. Custer, PhD, MPH

Director, VRI, Epidemiology and Policy Science
VP of Research and Scientific Programs, Vitalant

 

Brian S. Custer, PhD, MPH

Profile

Brian Custer is the Director of Epidemiology and Policy Science at Vitalant Research Institute (VRI) San Francisco and Vice President of Research and Scientific Program at Vitalant. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at UCSF, and the Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy & Economics (CHOICE) Institute at the University of Washington. He earned his MPH and PhD degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle. He conducts research on a spectrum of transfusion medicine topics in donor and recipient epidemiology, and health economics of blood safety policy, primarily focused on infectious diseases. He is the principal investigator for two parts of the NHLBI-funded REDS-IV-P project: the San Francisco Bay Area hub of the Domestic Program and the Brazil Transfusion Safety Research Program. He is also the principal investigator for two large studies funded by the FDA: the Laboratory and Risk Factor Coordinating Center of the Transfusion-Transmissible Infections Monitoring System (TTIMS) and the HIV Risk Questionnaire (HRQ) Study. He is actively involved in several committees and working groups of AABB, such as Transfusion Transmitted Diseases (TTD), a member of the Transfusion-Transmitted Infectious Diseases Working Party of ISBT, and the lead of the ISBT Transfusion Research Young Investigator Training (I TRY IT). He has served on the US Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability (ACBTSA), and continues to participate in working groups and subcommittees of ACBTSA.

Brian Custer, PhD, MPH
270 Masonic Ave
San Francisco, CA, 94118
 
Phone (415) 901-0756
Fax (415) 901-0733

  • Director, Epidemiology and Policy Science, Vitalant Research Institute, San Francisco, California
  • Vice President, Research and Scientific Affairs, Vitalant, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Adjunct Professor, UCSF Department of Laboratory Medicine
  • BS, Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • MPH, Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • PhD, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Brian Custer, PhD, MPH
270 Masonic Ave
San Francisco, CA, 94118
 
Phone (415) 901-0756
Fax (415) 901-0733

  • Director, Epidemiology and Policy Science, Vitalant Research Institute, San Francisco, California
  • Vice President, Research and Scientific Affairs, Vitalant, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Adjunct Professor, UCSF Department of Laboratory Medicine
  • BS, Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • MPH, Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • PhD, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Research Interests

 

Health outcomes research methods can provide important insights into blood supply safety and the implications of transfusion practices. My research program blends two areas together: epidemiology and health policy research. The epidemiological methods we use include traditional epidemiology and molecular epidemiology to understand disease in donors and recipients. This combined approach is critical for improving transfusion safety. In parallel, health policy evaluation with a focus on modeling, comparative effectiveness and comparative cost-effectiveness research provides a broader program-level understanding of the costs and consequences of blood safety and transfusion interventions on clinical and public health.

Transfusion Transmissible Infections

We use traditional and molecular epidemiology methods in studies of donors and donor behavior to gain insights into infections that could be transmitted to recipients through transfusion. We have conducted numerous studies examining risk factors for infection and symptoms associated with infections in donors. In addition, we have assessed donor motivations and compliance with donation eligibility rules. The range of infectious agents studied include: HIV, HCV, HBV, HTLV, WNV, T. cruzi, and bacteria.

Impact of Transfusion on Blood Recipients

The other types of epidemiological studies we conduct are projects that seek to understand clinical and health outcomes in blood donors and recipients. This area of work is wide ranging but the common denominator is the use of study designs, such as cohort or case-control studies, to assess adverse events, including transfusion-transmitted infections or, separately, benefits related to receipt of transfusion.

Policy and Health Economic Analyses

My other major area of research is in health policy with a specific focus on health economic analyses of blood safety interventions. This area of research has helped to define a growing awareness of the need for rigorous evaluation of the trade-offs and forgone benefits of using health care resources in blood safety in ways that may not maximize the overall health of the population or patients requiring transfusion.

ADVANCE Study

Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) is a pilot study that is focused on the FDA’s donor deferral policy called, Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM). The current MSM policy prohibits men who have sex with other men from donating blood for three months following their most recent sexual encounter. The purpose of the ADVANCE Study is to assess if there are other approaches rather than time-based deferrals for MSM that could be implemented in the US. This study will assess if specific questions could be used to assess individual risk in MSM. Under the guidance of the FDA and in partnership with LGBTQ+ community centers, Vitalant and OneBlood, the two largest community-based blood centers in the US and the American Red Cross will conduct the ADVANCE study. Vitalant Research Institute is leading this important pilot study. For more information please go to ADVANCEstudy.org