Bethesda, Md. - The National Blood Foundation (NBF) Board of Trustees has announced the five recipients of the 2013 NBF Scientific Research Grants. These recipients are Stella T. Chou, MD; William Janssen, MD; George J. Murphy, PhD; Robert B. Neuman, MD; and Sean Stowell, MD, PhD. Each individual is awarded up to $75,000 to pursue either a one- or two-year research project in transfusion medicine or cellular therapies.
“For almost 30 years, the National Blood Foundation has awarded competitive science research grants to talented young investigators working to advance transfusion medicine and cellular therapies,” said James Zimring, MD, PhD, chair of the NBF’s Grants Review Committee. “By investing in these researchers, the NBF has played an important role in transforming the field, and ultimately improving the lives of patients and donors.”
Since 1985, the NBF has dispersed more than $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 or cellular therapies. These grants are made possible by contributions from NBF’s Council on Research and Development (CORD) members and NBF Partners Program members, along with gifts from individuals, institutions and foundations.
The following are synopses about the five NBF Scientific Research Grants awarded this year. Full descriptions of the work being conducted by these researchers are available on AABB’s website: www.aabb.org/nbf.
Stella T. Chou, MD, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Red Blood Cell Generation From Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: A New Tool for Transfusion Medicine
Although most red blood cell (RBC) transfusions are uneventful, alloimmunization remains a significant complication, particularly for patients with sickle cell disease. These patients often form antibodies for which reagent RBCs are not widely available, making antibody identification a challenge. Testing for these antibodies may require sending samples to a reference immunohematology laboratory. With the NBF grant, Chou and colleagues will make such testing more widely available by using donor-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to produce panels of customized iPSC-derived reagent RBCs. "Currently, the reference labs depend heavily on rare donors for these types of variants," Chou said. "If we are successful in creating these cell lines … this could provide a virtually limitless supply."
William Janssen, MD, National Jewish Health, University of Colorado Denver
Degradation of the Pulmonary Endothelial Glycocalyx in Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury
Janssen will test the hypothesis that degradation of the lining of blood vessels — called pulmonary endothelial glycocalyx — is required for the development of transfusion-related acute lung injury, or TRALI. He and his coworkers have developed a “two-hit” mouse model of TRALI to test this hypothesis.
George J. Murphy, PhD, Boston University Medical Center, Center for Regenerative Medicine
Pluripotent Stem Cells in the Modeling of Blood Disease and the Development of Potentially Transfusable Human Red Blood Cells and Platelets
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor, the notorious cell-surface receptor that has been studied for its role in environmental chemical-induced toxicity, plays an important part in hematopoiesis. Murphy and his team will explore the possibility of manipulating the aryl hydrocarbon receptor to generate healthy or disease-specific progenitor cells. If successful, this work could lead to the advancement of generating Good Manufacturing Practice-grade RBCs and platelets.
Robert B. Neuman, MD, Emory University School of Medicine, Fellow, Cardiovascular Disease Clinical Research Track
Physiologic Effects of RBC Storage in Chronic Transfusion Recipients: Vasoreactivity, Exercise Capacity, and Oxygen Cconsumption
Transfusion of red blood cells is a common intervention aimed at preventing mortality and morbidity in anemic and bleeding patients. However, older stored red blood cell units, or storage-aged RBCs (saRBCs), may have functional defects that impair their efficacy and could harm transfused patients. With his NBF grant, Neuman will examine whether saRBCs, but not fresh RBCs, will impair nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation and result in reduced exercise tolerance and oxygen consumption in an ambulatory, transfusion-dependent adult population.
Sean Stowell, MD, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine
Characterization of Immunity and Tolerance Following RBC Transfusion
Patients who receive repeat transfusions often develop RBC-specific alloantibodies that decrease the therapeutic efficacy of transfusions and limit the availability of compatible RBCs. Unlike with organ transplantation, there currently are no immune suppression methods available to prevent RBC alloimmunization. Stowell and his colleagues have developed a mouse model to examine the induction and consequences of RBC alloimmunization.
Application Submission Process
The NBF is currently accepting 2014 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 email@example.com. Applications must be received by Dec. 31, 2013. Grant awards will be announced in June 2014 and funded in early July 2014.
About The National Blood Foundation
The National Blood Foundation (NBF), established in 1983, has a history of supporting research and education that advances transfusion medicine and cellular therapies 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 National Blood Foundation Research and Education Trust Fund (NBFRET) and the NBF. The NBF and NBFRET, which are 501(c)(3) organizations, provide grants for scientific research in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies and support educational initiatives that benefit this community. Since 1985, the NBF has awarded more than $8 million in grants to approximately 200 early-career researchers.
AABB is an international, not-for-profit association representing individuals and institutions involved in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. 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.