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Highlights from NIH Transfusion Medicine State of the Science Symposium

​As part of its strategic planning process, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) with the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health hosted a symposium on March 25-26. The symposium, the result of many months of planning, addressed four areas of transfusion medicine: blood donors and red blood cell, platelet and plasma transfusion. Working groups in each area presented five research priorities to stimulate discussion during the breakout sessions.

In addition to providing a framework for transfusion medicine research, the symposium will ultimately give rise to a list of the top 20 research priorities. NHLBI will use these priorities to develop its strategic research plan. Remaining questions developed at the symposium will also be provided to NHLBI. Several themes emerged across all four research areas. One was the need to integrate basic science within clinical trials design to clarify the mechanisms behind efficacy and safety results. In addition, transfusion medicine experts and stakeholders noted that research is required to determine how to make better products, whether synthetic, bioengineered or “pharmed.” Other themes included hemostasis, donor health and safety, and transfusion requirements of different patient populations — particularly pediatric and neonatal patients.