AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, is a not-for-profit association of medical professionals in transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. Every year, this industry-leading organization hosts a conference for subject matter experts and other professionals to network and present their findings from the past year.
This year, the Annual Meeting will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, attendees will still see all the research and practice-changing resources they’ve come to expect from past events.
When attendees log in during October 3-5, 2020, they can browse AABB’s virtual exhibit hall, where industry partners will demonstrate their latest products and services in real time. Attendees will also be able to connect directly with authors and other attendees via chat and community message boards.
New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) is looking forward to attending this year’s Annual Meeting. The time between AABB 2019 and 2020 has been a busy one for the organization. In addition to researching transfusion medicine and related fields, NYBCe has joined in the fight against COVID-19.
NYBCe at AABB 2019
While perhaps best known for their work at New York Blood Center (NYBC), NYBCe showed that it was much more than a blood center at the 2019 AABB Conference held in San Antonio, Texas.
More than 50 representatives from NYBCe’s operating divisions attended AABB 2019, such as NYBC, Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD), Community Blood Center (CBC) of Kansas City, Missouri, Innovative Blood Resources (IBR) and Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC). These representatives included authors, speakers and award winners. These representatives provided attendees with detailed information on the organization’s research, products, and services. Beth Shaz, MD, former Executive Vice President and Chief Medical & Scientific Officer of NYBCe, was named President of AABB and inducted into the National Blood Foundation (NBF) Hall of Fame.
NYBCe hosted its first “Meet The Experts” interviews in 2019, which featured executive leaders and subject matter experts from its core facilities. NYBCe also had 26 members authoring 60 AABB posters that year, all of whom were available during the conference. Eight of these posters had an NYBCe member as the first author.
What Has Happened at NYBCe Since AABB 2019?
NYBCe has conducted many significant studies since AABB 2019. For example, a paper published in the August 2019 issue of Blood identified a subset of white blood cells known as patrolling monocytes that can remove the sickle blood cells attached to the cells of blood vessels. Scientists at NYBCe’s Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) found that patients with sickle cell anemia have lower numbers of patrolling monocytes and that these numbers further decrease during a crisis.
Another study featured on the cover of the October 2019 issue of Transfusion describes the performance of bloodTyper, an interpretation algorithm developed by NYBCe scientists Drs. Connie Westhoff and Sunitha Vega, along with Dr. William Lane from Harvard Medical School. Among its many uses, this algorithm enabled personalized medicine through exome sequencing in a clinical trial by the U.S. Air Force.
Several months later, in December 2019, Christopher D. Hillyer, MD, President and CEO of NYBCe, was a featured panelist at the Life Science Symposium. This panel, titled “Developer Lightning Talks: Innovation Stories from Senior Players,” explored the critical need to support commercial research in New York City. It was one of the last significant events for the organization that year.
In February 2020, the Molecular Modeling and Drug Design lab, headed by Dr. Asim Debnath, published a study on antiviral inhibitors in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. This paper showed that one of these inhibitors demonstrated excellent antiviral potency, making it a potential candidate for further pre-clinical research.
Shortly after, in early March 2020, New York City saw a sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases. In response, NYBCe quickly mobilized to become the first blood center in the United States to create a COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) collection program. CCP is an investigational therapy that involves transfusing plasma containing COVID-19 antibodies into patients with the disease and may help them recover from the virus more quickly.
As of July 27, 2020, NYBCe has collected over 45,000 units of convalescent plasma from donors, and is increasing collections to keep up with rising COVID-19 cases across the U.S.
NYBCe also established the COVID-19 Research Repository (CRR) in response to the pandemic. The CRR, led by the efforts of Dr. Hillyer and Dr. Larry Luchsinger, seeks to not only increase the Enterprise’s repertoire of CCP samples but also spreadhead COVID-19 research and vaccination trials. The organization currently has two SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and adjuvant candidates in the pre-clinical phase.
In June 2020, Dr. Larry Luchsinger received an American Association of Blood Bank’s National Blood Foundation (NBF) Scientific Research Grant. Dr. Luchsinger will use this grant for research in transfusion medicine and cellular therapies.
What to Expect from NYBCe at AABB 2020
NYBCe is looking forward to a productive, informative AABB 2020. Over the coming weeks, the organization will be making many resources available on its website, including an AABB 2019 archive featuring presentations and posters from that conference. Information on the 2020 posters and abstracts from investigators at the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute and subject matter experts from other divisions will also be posted as soon as they’re available.
This year, NYBCe will have 55 representatives at AABB — comprising 11 speakers, 45 authors, and 9 program chairs. These subject matter experts will also be participating in 13 oral abstract sessions, 20 posters sessions, 7 education sessions, and 5 on-demand sessions.