20th Anniversary Celebration of the Centre for Blood Research (CBR): Commemorating Two Decades of Historical Milestones and Outstanding Achievements

Written by: John Perrier, Graduate Student, Dr. Pryzdial Lab (right) 
Edited by: Dr. Emily Park, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Ma Lab (middle) 
& Alexandra Witt, Graduate Student, Dr. Pryzdial Lab (left)


This original CBR blog reposted on CBS. Read a version of this blog (CBR 20th anniversary) on the Canadian Blood Services’s Research. Education. Discovery. (R.E.D.) blog:
20th anniversary celebration at the Centre for Blood Research (CBR): commemorating two decades of historical milestones and outstanding achievements

On July 7th the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) celebrated its 20-year anniversary, inviting CBR alumni to join current members in learning about the beginnings of the centre. This celebration featured an array of engaging activities, from blood-related trivia that intrigued the curious minds to captivating talks delivered by CBR’s principal investigators Dr. Ed Pryzdial and Dr. Chris Overall, as well as a panel discussion featuring past, current, and original CBR members, providing unique insights into the centre’s evolution. The evening concluded with a dinner and social gathering, where many generations of the CBR had an opportunity to meet and enjoy delicious food and drink.

Dr. Ed Conway, Interim Director of the CBR, cutting the CBR Anniversary cake in the Life Sciences Institute Atrium

Revisiting the Creation of the Centre for Blood Research
The celebration began with a founder’s talk by Dr. Ross MacGillivray, the founding director of the centre (pictured centre, below). Dr. MacGillivray took the audience back to 2002, when the idea of forming an interdisciplinary centre first arose. In response to the Krever inquiry, Dr. MacGillivray and fellow blood researchers Drs. Don Brooks, Dana Devine, Charles Haynes, and Grant Mauk sought to create a space for interdisciplinary research in blood and transfusion medicine to excel. The founders secured $15 million in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, with 40% of the support provided by the government of British Columbia. In a collaborative approach with the University, the CBR provided a portion of these funds towards the construction of the new Life Sciences Institute (LSI) in 2004, resulting in occupancy of the fourth floor. Dr. MacGillivray highlighted the importance of the relationship that the CBR has maintained between academia and industry, benefiting from the strong support of partners such as Bayer and the Canadian Blood Services.

Settling into Excellence at the LSI
Dr. Ed Pryzdial continued the journey by discussing the operations of the first couple of years at the new Life Science Institute.  Moving multiple labs into the new space revealed areas of the design plan that needed some extra love and attention. Working out these kinks resulted in a state-of-the-art facility, where research could be conducted close to many collaborators of varying areas of expertise. Then came the challenge of connecting with leaders across Canada and the world, a task which the CBR continues to ­­­­­­­uphold today. Dr. Chris Overall shed light on the collaborative efforts of the original CBR members successfully securing grants that kickstarted research in the centre, also allowing for the recruitment of new members.

Perspectives From the Many Generations of the CBR 
Members of the CBR Graduate Award Program (GAP) invited Dr. Ed Pryzdial (Principal Investigator), Eva Yap (former CBR Researcher, MSc, Med) and Daniel Luo (PhD Student) to for a panel discussion on career progression in academia, how the CBR has supported learning and well-being, and how to empower the next generation of scientists. During the interactive session, one audience member inquired about effective collaboration and outreach opportunities for postdocs both within and outside the CBR. The panel’s responses highlighted the valuable resources provided by the CBR and suggested leveraging the COCO club, a group dedicated to fostering social gatherings for postdocs and research associates on a monthly basis. Additionally, they encouraged utilizing the networks of PIs as a means to expand professional connections and collaborations.

Members of the CBR share dinner and refreshments to cap off the evening

Trivia Time: Blood and Brain Teasers
The GAP hosted an engaging round of blood-related trivia. Questions ranged from fun facts about founding members of the centre to identifying the compound in horseshoe crabs that makes their blood blue! The competition was fierce, with new winners emerging in each round. Ultimately, Katherine Serrano took first place, followed by Steven Jiang in second, and John Perrier third. Katherine expressed her joy at winning the trivia quiz and shared her deep connection with the CBR. “The CBR is a very special place to me with many great memories. I’ve been with the CBR from the beginning, 20 years ago. It’s wonderful to be back here, surrounded by so many familiar faces,” she said, reflecting on the cherished moments at the CBR.

The CBR’s 20th anniversary was organized by recipients of the 2022-2023 CBR Graduate Award Program. Members Elyn Rowe and Henry West shared their experiences in organizing the event.

“Having the opportunity to organize a large-scale event through the GAP program was a unique experience for a graduate student. It felt particularly special to organize a celebration of the CBR to highlight its history and all of its achievements over the past 20 years! While it was stressful in the weeks leading up to the event – wondering if everything would come together – I’m very proud of how it all came together.” – Elyn Rowe, Devine Lab

“Organizing the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Centre for Blood Research was a rewarding experience. Planning this evening allowed the GAP participants to develop a number of organizational skills we would not have had the opportunity to develop without the program; and seeing the success of the event was definitely gratifying.” – Henry West, Pryzdial Lab

The CBR thanks the 2022-2023 GAP program members, Ahmed Kabil, Deasung (Jayden) Jang, Elyn Rowe, Felix Hong, Henry West, Loulou Cai, Marie Johns, Peyman Malek Mohammadi Nouri and The CBR Education Program Manager, Dr. Parvin Bolourani for their tremendous efforts in arranging this anniversary event. It was an evening filled with laughter, pride, and great conversations. It was fabulous to have Dr. MacGillivray and many others back in the building, the centre looks forward to what the next 20 years have in store!