In Memoriam: Angelyn Konugres, PhD

August 09, 2023

Angelyn A. Konugres Coupounas, PhD, an internationally recognized authority on neonatal blood diseases and transfusion therapy, died July 27 at age 99. She was a trailblazing AABB member who in 1959 became the world’s first recipient of a PhD in immunohematology.

Konugres began her storied career in transfusion medicine as director of the blood bank of the Los Angeles County General Hospital, USC School of Medicine (now LA General Medical Center). After nine years in that role, she left to pursue her PhD in immunohematology at Cambridge University, studying under the renowned immunologist, Robin Coombs, FRS, FRCPath, FRCP, with whom she maintained a close friendship until his death in 2006.

Konugres also authored the book “Eradication of Hemolytic Diseases of the Newborn” and many articles for medical and scientific journals. In addition, she was an early proponent and contributor to the development of Rh immune globulin.

Later in her career, Konugres would serve as director of research at Boston Hospital for Women, director of immunohematology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and principal associate in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. She was also an expert in blood testing for disputed parentage, authoring legal guidelines for the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association.

Konugres was a dedicated blood banker who received countless accolades for her many contributions to the field. She received the AABB Medallion for Leadership for her discovery of new blood factors and the Memorial Award for scientific contributions to transfusion therapy. She also served as chairman of AABB’s Rare Blood Group Registry and spoke at a number of AABB seminars. Upon her retirement, the Massachusetts Association of Blood Banks established the Angelyn Konugres Lectureship in her honor to recognize a blood bank professional who exemplifies leadership and commitment to this field.