Kansas City-based laboratory will be first to specialize on a national level in precision medicine applied to blood transfusion, to increase safety and minimize complications

New York New York Blood Center (NYBC), along with its partner organization Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City (CBC), today announced the creation of the National Center for Blood Group Genomics. Based in Kansas City, the focus of the new laboratory and research center will be national in scope, targeting the testing of blood donor and patient samples from across the nation. The new center is scheduled to open by the end of 2016.

The mission of this National Center of Excellence is to apply precision medicine through the use of genomics for the treatment of hematological malignancies, inherited and acquired anemias, autoimmune diseases and transplantation when selecting products for transfusion. Matching patients and blood donors based only on the ABO and Rh type has not changed materially since the 1950’s, despite the discovery of more than 300 other blood group antigens. The center will specialize in providing “precise-matched” blood products to avoid complications, properly screen patients for the suitability of various transfusion treatment regimens, and improve the overall practice and safety of transfusion medicine. Researchers will focus on developing the next generation of testing, as well as training future leaders in the field of genomics.

Mark Schmidtlein, NYBC board member and former chair of CBC said: “This is exactly the kind of unique medical and economic development our board hoped for in deciding to join with the New York Blood Center.”

“The National Center for Blood Group Genomics will combine state-of-the-art methods in serological investigation and DNA blood group analysis to resolve complex cases of blood type matching, determine clinical significance, and provide consultation for selection of blood for transfusion to hospitals around the country,” said Christopher D. Hillyer, M.D., President and CEO of NYBC. 

The National Center for Blood Group Genomics builds upon NYBC’s 50 years of groundbreaking research in fields of hematology, transfusion medicine, immunohematology, genomics and immunogenetics. Dr. Pablo Rubinstein, MD, a pioneer in the fields of immunogenetics and cord blood transplantation, founded the world’s first public cord blood bank at NYBC in 1992. Dr. Connie M. Westhoff, SBB, PhD, will lead the new initiative. Dr. Westhoff, Director of Immunohematology, Genomics, and Rare Blood at NYBC, is a nationally known expert in blood group genetics and in molecular testing for transfusion medicine.

About New York Blood Center

Now more than 50 years old, New York Blood Center (NYBC) is a nonprofit organization that is one of the largest independent, community-based blood centers in the country. NYBC’s mission is to serve the 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area—and more broadly, our nation and our world—by alleviating human suffering and preserving human life using our medical expertise.

Each year, NYBC provides approximately one million blood products to nearly 200 hospitals in the Northeast. NYBC also provides a wide array of transfusion-related medical services. NYBC is also home to the world’s largest public cord blood bank, which provides stem cells for transplant in many countries, and a renowned research institute, which – among other milestones – developed the Hepatitis B vaccine and innovative blood purification technology.

About Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City

Community Blood Center (CBC) partnered with the NYBC in 2014 to better serve hospitals in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  CBC provides nearly 200,000 blood products per year to 70 area hospitals – and relies on volunteer donors each day to meet the need for life-saving gifts of blood.

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