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August 27, 2014
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AABB’s National Blood Foundation Awards Scientific Research Grants to Six Individuals

Bethesda, Md. - The National Blood Foundation, or NBF, Board of Trustees has announced the six recipients of the 2014 NBF Scientific Research Grants. These recipients are Kyung Hee Chang, PhD; Richard Francis, MD, PhD; Neil Hanchard, MD, PhD; Krystalyn Hudson, PhD; Julie Peterson, PhD; and Claude Tagny, MD, MS, MSc. The NBF awards each individual up to $75,000 to pursue either a one- or two-year research project in transfusion medicine, cellular therapies or patient blood management.

“This year the NBF received a record number of grant applications, demonstrating the importance of the Scientific Research Grants Program in its support of early career scientists advancing this field,” said James Zimring, MD, PhD, chair of the NBF’s Grants Review Committee. “The NBF offered patient blood management as a research content area for the first time and received eight applications in this area alone.” The following are synopses of the six research projects awarded NBF grant funding this year.

Kyung Hee Chang, PhD, Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio
Angiotensin in Stem Cell Recruitment and Mobilization.
Mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells and progenitors, or HSC/P, is crucially relevant for stem cell therapy. HSC/P mobilization is guided by a complex interplay of molecular and cellular mechanisms, which are still incompletely understood. Chang and her colleagues have found a correlation between high plasma levels of Angiotensin II, or Ang-II, and increased HSC/P circulation in patients with sickle cell disease and animals. This project intends to understand the regulatory role of Ang-II/cell-type specific Ang-II receptor(s) on HSC/P mobilization, which could lead to advanced therapeutic approaches.

Richard Francis, MD, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center
New York, N.Y.
Effect of Glucose-6-phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency on Red Blood Cell Storage.
The overall goal of this project is to improve the safety of red blood cell, or RBC, transfusions. Specifically, Francis and his colleagues will test whether RBCs from glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficient blood donors store more poorly than RBCs from G6PD-normal donors under current blood banking standards. In addition, Francis et al. will investigate in vitro markers of RBC oxidative stress to determine if they can predict post-transfusion RBC recovery in vivo, thereby serving as surrogate markers of the quality of stored RBCs.

Neil Hanchard, MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas
A Genomics Approach to Transfusion Responders in Sickle Cell Disease.
Some individuals are more susceptible to forming multiple alloantibodies after RBC transfusions than others. Patients with sickle cell disease are at particularly high risk for alloimmunization and other complications. The fundamental question of why only some patients respond adversely while others appear to be spared remains unanswered. Hanchard proposes to use cutting-edge genomics technologies to test for genetic variants that contribute to the way patients with sickle cell disease respond to chronic transfusions.

Krystalyn Hudson, PhD, Puget Sound Blood Center Research Institute
Seattle, Wash.
Establishment and Maintenance of Lymphocyte Tolerance to RBC Antigens.
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia, or AIHA, occurs when individuals lose their tolerance to RBC antigens and pathogenic autoantibodies promote hemolysis. Hudson will use a mouse model to investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible for loss of tolerance to RBC antigens.

Julie Peterson, PhD, Blood Research Institute, BloodCenter of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wis.
Recombinant Glycoprotein Fragments for Improved Detection of Alloantibodies in Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia.
Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia, or NAIT, occurs when maternal alloantibodies that react with fetal platelets cause thrombocytopenia. However, the most sensitive existing serological methods fail to detect alloantibodies in many infants who present with the signs and symptoms of NAIT. This project will use and develop new technologies to improve and simplify NAIT diagnosis.

Claude Tayou Tagny, MD, MS, MSc, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon
Centre Region, Cameroon
Risk Factors of HIV Infection in Sub-Saharan Africa Blood Donor — A Pilot Phase in Cameroon.
Transfusion transmitted HIV represents up to 10 percent of all HIV infection, and prevalence of HIV infection frequently ranges between 1 and 5 percent among Sub-Saharan Africa blood donor candidates. Improving the deferral of risky blood donor candidates would be a cost-effective approach to reducing transfusion-transmitted HIV infections in resources-limited settings. However, donor history questionnaires used in Africa have not been designed using evidence of local risk factors. This is a case control study aiming to identify the risk factors for HIV infection in blood donors and to develop an appropriate pre-donation screening questionnaire for Sub-Saharan Africa blood centers. This study is in a pilot phase in Cameroon.

Since 1985, the NBF has dispersed almost $8 million in grants to approximately 200 early-career researchers through its Scientific Research Grants Program. Grant proposals are evaluated on the basis of their scientific merit and relevance to and impact on transfusion medicine, cellular therapies, and patient blood management. These grants are made possible by contributions from NBF’s Council on Research and Development, or CORD, members and NBF Partners Program members, along with gifts from individuals, institutions and foundations.

Application Submission Process

The NBF is now accepting 2015 scientific research grant applications. Grant applications are available on the NBF Web page (www.aabb.org/nbf), or by contacting the NBF at +1.301.215.6552 or nbf@aabb.org. Applications must be received by Dec. 31, 2014. Grant awards will be announced in June 2015 and funded in early July 2015.

About The National Blood Foundation

The National Blood Foundation, or NBF, established in 1983, supports research and education that advances transfusion medicine, cellular therapies and patient blood management by funding scientific research that benefits patients and donors. Funds are raised annually from corporations, blood centers, foundations and individuals by the NBF for the NBF and the NBF Research and Education Trust Fund (NBFRET). www.aabb.org/nbf

About AABB

AABB is an international, not-for-profit association representing individuals and institutions involved in transfusion medicine, cellular therapies and patient blood management. The association is committed to improving health by developing and delivering standards, accreditation and educational programs that focus on optimizing patient and donor care and safety. AABB membership consists of nearly 2,000 institutions and 8,000 individuals, including physicians, nurses, scientists, researchers, administrators, medical technologists and other health care providers. Members are located in more than 80 countries. For more information, visit www.aabb.org.

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