The CBR welcomes Dr. Dana Devine as Director

Dr. Dana Devine

Dr. Dana Devine, the CBR’s new Director

As of January 1st, 2021, the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) was pleased to welcome Dr. Dana Devine as Director. She succeeds Dr. Ed Conway, the CBR’s previous Director of 11 years.

“I’m honoured to accept the position of Director, and look forward to building on the CBR’s successes,” said Dr. Devine. In addition to her long-time work with the CBR, Dr. Devine holds many other reputable positions, including her roles as a professor in UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the chief scientist at Canadian Blood Services, the president-elect of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), and the Editor-in-Chief of the blood transfusion journal Vox Sanguinis.

As one of the CBR’s founding members, Dr. Devine has been an integral part of the Centre since the beginning. She helped write the $15 million Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant application that led to the CBR’s creation following the Krever inquiry, along with other founding members Drs. Ross MacGillivray, Grant Mauk, Don Brooks, and Charles Haynes. With strong connections to other UBC departments, as well as Canadian Blood Services, Dr. Devine also initiated essential partnerships with collaborators across the divide of different organizations and academic disciplines. The result was the establishment of the CBR in 2002, a multidisciplinary research institute that was unlike any other.

“If you go back 20 years, there was no such thing as a truly multidisciplinary, multi-faculty blood research centre,” said Dr. Conway. “Dana was one of the people who had the vision for the CBR and what it could accomplish; she really laid the groundwork for what it is now.”

Today, the CBR encompasses over 40 research groups, with members located across the UBC campus, at Canadian teaching hospitals, and at other organizations dedicated to health and healthcare research. Reflecting on the CBR’s development over the years, both Dr. Devine and Dr. Conway agreed on one of its core strengths: the Centre’s collaborative, interdisciplinary nature.

A photo of the CBRs members in 2002

A photo of CBR members from 2002, including founding members Drs. Dana Devine (front row, third from left), Charles Haynes (front row, second from left), Ross MacGillivray (front row, middle), and Don Brooks (front row, fourth from right).

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to improve the lives of patients, which is a huge and complex issue,” said Dr. Devine. “To tackle big-picture questions around patient treatment and care, you need a mix of both applied and basic scientific experts with different backgrounds and approaches to solving problems, from research areas outside of your own. It’s not something a single person can do by themselves.”

She pointed out that the CBR, which initially had many basic scientists as members, has since then strengthened its clinical and industry connections. It has also expanded to include faculty and trainees from a wide variety of fields like engineering, biochemistry, dentistry, molecular biology and the social sciences, among many others.

“The successes of the CBR have been built on many, many shoulders,” added Dr. Conway. “I think that’s where the value is: in everybody’s contributions.”

Building on the CBR’s growth, Dr. Devine plans to focus on several key areas during her four-year term. These include continuing to strengthen connections with other departments and prospective collaborators, translating discoveries into applied use for patient benefit, establishing a faculty renewal strategy aligned with equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and improving fundraising and support for the Centre.

Dr. Ed Conway, the CBR’s Director from 2009 - 2020

Dr. Ed Conway, the CBR’s Director from 2009 – 2020

“Dana’s a superstar,” said Dr. Conway. “She’ll be a fantastic person to advance our existing foundations and lead the CBR in new directions, for research, educational programming and beyond.”

“Dr. Devine has a wealth of knowledge in strategic planning and transfusion medicine, as well as developing applied blood products at the national and international level,” said Dr. Josef Penninger, the Director of the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) at UBC, of which the CBR is a key member. Many CBR labs, including Dr. Devine and Dr. Conway’s, are based at the Life Sciences Centre building, which is managed by the LSI.

“I want to thank Ed Conway for his stellar leadership – at all levels – to make CBR to one of the prime blood research centres in the world, an amazing accomplishment,” Dr. Penninger added. “We all look forward to the great expertise and the research excellence that Dana will bring at the prow of the CBR.”

When asked how she felt upon learning of her appointment, Dr. Devine expressed a sense of belonging. “I’ve been part of the CBR for so long,” she said, laughing, “so really, a part of me felt like I was coming home.”