2018 Norman Bethune Symposium

Stefanie NovakowskiLilyTakeuchiBy Stefanie Novakowski, PhD Candidate, Kastrup Lab, and Lily Takeuchi, Graduate Student, Kizhakkedathu Lab

The 8th Norman Bethune Symposium was held on April 10, 2018 in Vancouver, BC. This event honours Dr. Norman Bethune, whose medical studies and wartime experiences made him a pioneer in trauma surgery and transfusion medicine, and provides an opportunity for clinicians and researchers to share their ongoing work in these fields.

The need to improve availability of blood products was the focus of the morning. Dr. Andrew Beckett (McGill University Health Centre) drew on his own experiences with the Royal Canadian Medical Service to highlight the importance of immediate medical care following trauma. Dr. Jose Cancelas (U of Cincinnati) described how his lab has enhanced the in vivo recovery of cold-stored platelets. Dr. Yulia Lin (U of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Science Center) has developed teaching programs across Canada to train medical students and practicing clinicians in the proper prescription of transfusion products. Dr. Andrew Shih (Vancouver Coastal Health Authority) described new protocols which focus on the management of type AB plasma product, the universal donor product.

The next group of speakers emphasized the importance of ongoing research in clinical practice. Dr. James Bussel (Cornell University) spoke of his thirty years of experience treating immune thrombocytopenia, while Dr. Peter Zandstra (UBC) highlighted the emerging field of stem cell therapy. Following lunch, Dr. Steven Spitalnik (Columbia University) discussed how variation in the “source material” of blood products, or the donors, dictates the stability of donations.

In the afternoon, several talks provided insight on the interface between transfusion medicine and data science. Dr. Celina Montemayor-Garcia (National Institutes of Health) highlighted the challenges in translating genomic information into clinically significant findings, while Dr. James Zimring (Bloodworks Northwest) gave a cautionary perspective of using metabolomics to assess stored platelets. Dr. Marco Marra (UBC) revealed BC Cancer’s Personalized Oncogenomics project, which integrates genomic sequencing into diagnosis and treatment planning for cancer patients.

This year’s patient perspective talk was given by Collen Fitzpatrick, Silver Cross Mother and advocate for Canadian Blood Services. In a moving speech, she told the story of her son, Darren, a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces who suffered an accident in combat. Multiple blood transfusions sustained his life briefly, allowing their family to gain precious time with their son before his passing.

Usama Abbasi

Usama Abbasi with Dr. Ed Conway

Angela Mo

Angela Mo with Dr. Ed Conway

Emel Islamzada

Emel Islamzada with Dr. Ed Conway











Throughout the day, attendees had opportunities to hear from CBR trainees. Andrew Hsieh (Côté Lab) presented findings on immune-mediated cellular aging in HIV-positive patients, Usama Abbasi (Kizhakkedathu Lab) described current strategies in managing iron overload that occurs due to multiple transfusions, and Enoli De Silva (Kim Lab) discussed the involvement of actin cytoskeleton remodelling in platelet apoptosis. The winners of this year’s Poster Competition were Emel Islamzada (Ma Lab), Usama Abbasi, and Angela Mo (Karsan Lab).

Thank you to all the speakers and organizers who took their time to make this event an insightful and successful day, particularly Dr. Dana Devine, Mira Milutinovic, and Julie Kora. A special thanks to our sponsors: CSL Behring, Bayer, Grifols, Canadian Blood Services, Sheldon Naiman-Vickars Endowment Fund, Pfizer, Alexion, and Octapharma.

To view photos and recordings of the event, click here.

To read the Canadian Blood Services’ Research, Education and Discovery (RED) blog post about the symposium, click here.

Join us for CBR Research Day on Thursday, August 16, 2018!

Norman Bethune

Norman Bethune Symposium speakers

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