Norman Bethune Symposium

Dr. (Henry) Norman Bethune (1890-­1939) was a Canadian physician who in the 1930s spearheaded the implementation of the first practical mobile blood collection and distribution system and promoted universal access to health care. This symposium, held in his honour, is an informative and entertaining event with participation of a full range of scientists and clinicians at all levels of training.

Read more about Norman Bethune in our original post.




Register now for the 2021 Norman Bethune Symposium.

The 10th Annual Norman Bethune Symposium will take place on Tuesday May 18, 2021, from 8:00AM – 3:45PM PT via Zoom. The deadline to register is May 15, 2021.


We have a fabulous program this year, with speakers from across the world! Some of the highlights:

  • Keynote presentations on advances in patient blood management, challenges in trauma-induced bleeding, blood type and COVID-19 risk, disorders of RBC metabolism, new approaches in blood products, and blood products in traumatic brain injury.
  • Lots of opportunities for presentations by students and trainees… from anywhere in the world!

A draft event program is available below. Please revisit the page for program updates.


Poster Presenter & Video Pitch Guidelines

Click below to view more information about the virtual poster presentations and #CBRPosterPitch at Norman Bethune Symposium.

  • Poster dimensions:
    • 3 ft x 4 ft (36 inches x 48 inches); portrait orientation recommended
    • Since attendees will be viewing posters on their computer screens, we recommend that posters be readable without zoom when displayed at full-screen width.
    • An example poster template can be found here (adapted from UBC Research Poster Template): Poster sample template
  • You will be emailed a link to a OneDrive folder where you can upload your files. Please upload a copy of your poster online by Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 11:59 pm PT. Note the following file details:
    • Posters should be in a PDF format.
    • File name should be in the format “Firstname_Lastname_2021 NBS poster”.

(Note: The uploaded posters will be shared online in advance of the Symposium. If you are making any poster revisions after the upload deadline, then please present the most updated version of your poster during the poster session at the Symposium.)

*Please install and use the latest version of Zoom Client for Meetings on your desktop to ensure the poster session runs smoothly. The Zoom “Self-select Breakout Rooms” feature will be used to facilitate the poster session. If you are unsure if you have the latest version of Zoom, please check this video to learn how to update your account: 

The live poster presentation session will tentatively occur from 9:10-9:40 am PT on May 18, 2021. Although 30 minutes is allotted for the session, presenters are welcome to continue their discussions during the break that follows. Each poster presenter will be assigned to their own Zoom breakout room. The presenter will share their poster PDF using the ‘screen share’ function on Zoom (and viewing the poster in ‘full-screen mode’ in Adobe Acrobat), walkthrough their poster and answer any questions from the attendees in the breakout room. Presenters are encouraged to invite their peers and other scientists to attend the Symposium and view their posters.

A poster session rehearsal is scheduled on May 17, 2021 from 10-11 am PT for those who would like to familiarize themselves with Zoom and ask any questions to the event organizers. Please contact for meeting details.

Each poster will be evaluated by 2 judges based on the following criteria:

  • Overall appearance: The poster is legible and not cluttered with text; any visuals used are effective.
  • Organization & flow: The components of the poster are organized in a logical flow.
  • Clarity of content: Sufficient background information is provided and the research being communicated is easy to understand.
  • Quality of poster presentation: The presenter explained the poster clearly, demonstrated content knowledge and was able to answer questions.

Judges will receive a copy of the poster in advance of the Symposium. On the day of the event, they will also visit the presenter’s breakout room to interact with them. Prizes will be awarded to the best posters at the end of the Symposium.

Tips to creating a compelling research poster:

  • Tell a story and present the ideas in a logical manner. Structure your presentation to target a broad audience.
  • When designing the poster, consider how its layout can help facilitate this storytelling and organize the ideas.
  • Cut down on text and keep the content concise. To facilitate reading, consider using visuals or bulleted lists in lieu of long paragraphs.
  • Let your poster “breathe”. Don’t be afraid of negative or white space. Too much text will decrease the readers’ attention. Use the white space to draw the readers’ attention to the most important messages.
  • Make sure text and visuals are readable without zoom when displayed at full-screen width.
  • Be selective with the use of colour. Colour can liven up the poster, but too much colour can be distracting for the reader.


Other online resources:

#CBRPosterPitch: Pitch Your Research Poster!

#CBRPosterPitch is a 90-second video presentation that accompanies your poster at this year’s virtual Norman Bethune Symposium, similar to the live “shotgun” presentations that were previously held during the in-person Symposium. The goal of the pitch is to effectively sell your science to the attendees (which include other scientists, health practitioners, industry professionals, and patients), and spark their interest. A punchy pitch should also entice attendees to visit your virtual poster room during the Symposium and start a conversation. This is a great opportunity to practice your science communication skills!     

Prizes will be awarded to the best pitch, as voted on by the Symposium attendees. Click on the tabs above for technical and content guidelines.

Technical guidelines:

  • Length of video: 90 seconds maximum. Video must be continuous - no edits, breaks, etc.
  • Video should ideally be in landscape mode. You can record the pitch on any device (phone, computer via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.). 
    • If you need assistance recording your pitch, there will be a Zoom filming & consultation session on May 6, 2021 from 10-11 am PT. Please contact for meeting details.
  • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person poster session, and record indoors using a plain background, if possible. 
  • No props or electronic media (eg. slides, background music, sound effects) are permitted.
  • The presentation should focus the presenter in the centre of the screen. Hand gestures and body language are permissible.
  • You will be emailed a link to a OneDrive folder where you can upload your files. Please upload your video file by Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 11:59 pm PT
    • File name should be in the format “Firstname_Lastname_2021 NBS poster pitch”
    • The video file will be uploaded onto YouTube, so it must be in one of the following formats listed here (suggested file types: .mp4, .mov, .wmv).
    • For closed captioning purposes, please note down any jargon/technical terminology presented in your pitch when you upload your video file (if applicable). Please upload a list of words onto your OneDrive folder.
    • All pitch videos, along with posters, will be published online in advance of the symposium. 


Content Guidelines:

The poster pitch should:

  • Create a memorable and positive impression.
  • Open the door to further conversation and potential collaboration.
  • Introduce who you are, where you work, and who your supervisor is.
  • Describe the topic of your research, the problem/gap/question that you are addressing in your research, how you are solving this problem, the importance and impact of your research, and if applicable, the conclusion of what you found.
  • Use plain language and avoid jargon if possible. 
  • Be clear and concise. It should also not include too much unnecessary detail.
  • Engage an audience with diverse disciplines of knowledge.

Need some inspiration? Check out these resources:

Past Symposia:

2020 Program -

  • You can view the recording of the symposium here.

Plenary Speakers:

  • Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services “Disruptions and opportunity: blood systems in a post-COVID era"
  • Dr. Karen Nelson, Bloodworks Northwest, Seattle, “Transfusion related immunomodulation: effects of blood product irradiation and leukoreduction”
  • Dr. Nareg Roubinian, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, "Blood donorcomponent-recipient linkages and RBC transfusion efficacy outcomes“
  • Erik Lamoureux, UBC, "Red blood cell deformability classification using deep learning"
  • Niloy Chatterjee, University of Calcutta, "COVID-19: Why blood matters in this current pandemic"
  • Amy Wong Strilchuk, UBC, "Transient gene therapies to decrease the stability of thrombi for coagulopathy and thrombosis"
  • Dr. Karina Yazdanbakhsh, NY Blood Center, NY, “Transfusion immunology and sickle cell disease”
  • Dr. Mel Krajden, Pathology, UBC, “Something COVID-19”
  • Maria-Elizabeth Baeva, UBC, "Are eyes more than just windows to the soul? Exploring the link between ocular pathology and Alzheimer's disease"
  • Olga Mykhailova, Canadian Blood Services, "Donor's sex affects the hypothermic storage lesion in subpopulation of young and old RBCs"
  • Wenhui Li, University of Alberta, "The role of donor sex on the percentage of CD71 erythroid cells in the whole blood"
  • Dr. Michelle Zeller, McMaster University, Hamilton, “Sex & Age: Donor characteristic impact on recipient outcomes"
  • Dr. Jerry Teitel, St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, "Acquired hemophilia: newer insights into a rare and threatening disease“
  • Marine Theret, UBC, "The role of TGF-β-activated kinase 1 in MSCs, a key modulator of the inflammatory environment"
  • Keiko Patterson, UBC, "Status Report: Nepal Sickle Cell Project 2015 - 2020"
  • Dr. Martin Schreiber, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, “Adjunctive therapies to transfusion for trauma-induced bleeding"
  • Dr. Hongshen Ma, CBR, UBC, “Cell deformability as a potential biomarker for the quality of donated red blood cells”

Twitter Research Showcase Presenters 2020

See the presenters' Tweet threads and learn more about the Twitter Research Showcase here.

Presenter (Twitter handle) Research Showcase Title
Maria-Elizabeth Baeva (@Maria_the_Bae) Are eyes more than just windows to the soul? Exploring the link between ocular pathology and Alzheimer's disease.
Rachel Dunn (@RachelD66632018) DNA sequencing with molecular barcoding to uncover low frequency mitochondrial DNA mutations
Mona Khorshidfar (@Mona95480574) Quality measurements of apheresis platelet concentrates from donors whose platelets repeatedly show low pH over storage
Jerry Leung (@JerryL_NP) Using Lipid Nanoparticles to Create Designer Platelets
Wenhui Li (@LiWenhui_) The role of donor sex on the presence of CD71 erythroid cells in the whole blood
Bronwyn Lyons (@blyons619) The type 3 secretion system: a pathogenic bacterial nanomachine
Marie-Soleil Smith (@MarieSunSmith) Concordance between plasma cotinine concentration and smoking self-reporting in two CARMA cohort studies
Amy Wong Strilchuk (@itsAmylase) Transient gene therapy to prevent thrombosis

The CBR would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of 2020 Norman Bethune Symposium.

2019 Program -

  • Below you can view the videos from the presentations:
Norman Bethune Symposium - Morning - Part 1
Norman Bethune Symposium - Morning - Part 2
Norman Bethune Symposium - Afternoon - Part 1
Norman Bethune Symposium - Afternoon - Part 2

Plenary Speakers:

  • Richard M. Kaufman, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, “Plateletpheresis-associated lymphopenia in frequent platelet donors”
  • Angelo d'Alessandro, PhD, U of Colorado “Red Blood Cell Storage: from Omics Studies to Personalized Transfusion Medicine”
  • Kelsey Johnson, PhD Candidate, UBC, “Paid plasma: the ethical debate”
  • Chris Overall, PhD, UBC, “Redeployment of a Potent MALT1 Inhibitor as a Molecular Corrector that Rescues Lymphocyte Mutant MALT1 Activity and Functions in an
    Immunodeficient Patient”
  • Anirban Sen Gupta, PhD, Case Western Reserve U., “Platelet-inspired nanotechnologies for hemostasis and drug delivery applications”
  • Georgina Butler, PhD, UBC, “The Box”
  • Jeannie Callum, MD, U of Toronto “Research in advancing hemostasis and hemorrhage control: time to leave the land of components?"
  • Mitchell Cohen, MD, University of Colorado, “Translational approaches to Acute Traumatic
    Coagulopathy: Clinical observations, translational research and precision medicine for trauma resuscitation”
  • Peter Rahfeld, PhD, UBC, “Discovery of new enzymes for universal donor blood production”
  • Aaron Tobian, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins, “Red Blood Cell Transfusion: Risks, Recommendations and Temporal Trends”
  • Robin Turner, PhD, UBC, “Assessing the condition of stored RBCs within sealed blood bags using Raman spectroscopy”

2018 Program

  • Below you can view the videos from the presentations:
Norman Bethune Symposium - Morning-Part 1
Norman Bethune Symposium - Morning - Part 2
  • The pictures are here.

Plenary Speakers:

  • Jim Bussel, MD Cornell U. “Thrombopoietic agents & IVIG in management of thrombocytopenia”
  • Jose Cancelas, MD, PhD, U of Cincinnati “Cold platelet storage lesion and prevention methods”
  • Yulia Lin, MD, U of Toronto “Training the next generation of transfusion prescribers”
  • Andrew Shih, MD, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, “The AB plasma appropriateness index as a tool for improved AB plasma transfusion practice”
  • Anthony Hsieh, CBR, UBC, “Shorter cell subset telomeres in HIV slow progressor women than in HIV non-slow progressor women”
  • Andrew Beckett, MD, Lieutenant-Colonel, McGill U “Bethune’s Ghost on the Battlefield: Norman Bethune and his influence on current combat casualty care”
  • Peter Zandstra, PhD, UBC “Engineering blood development”
  • Steven Spitalnik, MD, Columbia U Medical Center “Making better RBC donors”
  • Colleen Fitzpatrick, “A patient’s perspective”
  • Celina Montemayor Garcia, MD, PhD, NIH, Bethesda, “Next generation sequencing for red blood cell antigens”
  • James Zimring, MD, PhD, Bloodworks Northwest, "Metabolomics of platelet storage“
  • Marco Marra, PhD, UBC, “Whole genome analysis to support cancer treatment decision making: BC Cancer Personalized Oncogenomics (POG) Project”

2017 Program

  • Below you can view the videos from the presentations:
Norman Bethune Symposium - Morning - Part 1
Norman Bethune Symposium - Morning - Part 2
Norman Bethune Symposium - Afternoon

Plenary Speakers: 

  • Peter Newman, PhD, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, “CRISPR-mediated generation of antigenically-distinct platelet progenitors from human iPS cells”
  • Heather Pidcoke, MD, PhD, Terumo BCT, “Refrigerated (4°C) Platelets: New Opportunities for Improving the Care of Bleeding Patients”
  • Shibani Pati, MD, PhD, Blood Systems Research Institute, “Regulation of Organ Injury in Trauma and Critical Care Medicine by Plasma and Platelet Transfusion”
  • Hugh Kim, DMD, PhD, FRCD(C), UBC, “Platelet signaling from an oral health perspective”
  • Mohandas Narla, DSc, New York Blood Centre, “Insights into Erythropoiesis and Red Cell Biology relevant to Transfusion Medicine”
  • James Piret, ScD, FCIC, UBC, “Raman Spectroscopy as a Process Analytical Technology for Cellular Therapy Applications”
  • Jean Wang, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, “A Social History of Transfusion Medicine”
  • Krista Klokeid, “Transfusion medicine through the eyes of a recipient”
  • Jacqueline Trudeau, MD, PhD, Vancouver General Hospital, “Clinical Experience with Implementation of a Laboratory Based Hospital Wide ROTEM program”
  • Mark Yazer, MD, University of Pittsburgh, “Whole blood for civilian trauma resuscitation: a new idea or back to the basics?”
  • Dana Devine, PhD, UBC, "Future of Transfusion Medicine”

2016 Program

Plenary Speakers: 

  • Dr. Claudia S. Cohn, University of Minnesota, “Autologous platelet rich plasma: evidence for its therapeutic benefit”
  • Dr. Christopher Silliman, University of Colorado Denver, “Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI): novel concepts and methods of mitigation"
  • Dr. Michael Busch, Blood Systems Research Institute and University of California San Francisco, "Zika virus and other arboviral threats to the blood supply”
  • Dr. Michaël Chasse, Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, "What we can learn about transfusion from big data bases”
  • Dr. Eldad Hod,  Columbia University Medical Center, “Potential harmful effects of RBC transfusion: after RECESS and ABLE”
  • Dr. Jason Sutherland, UBC, “Funding healthcare in Canada: the pitfalls and opportunities”
  • Dr. Erik Vu, Vancouver General Hospital, "BCEHS paramedic out-of-hospital blood program"
  • Aidan Chin, Champion Child Ambassador for BC Children’s Hospital, "Childhood Cancer Survivor" 
  • Dr. William Sheffield, Canadian Blood Services and McMaster University, "Controlling bleeding via transfusion of plasma or factor concentrates in animal models"

2015 Program

Plenary Speakers: 

  • Dr. Steven Deeks, UC San Francisco "HIV Cure: Are we Making Progress or Just A Lot of Noise?"
  • Dr. Priscilla Hsue, UC San Francisco "HIV, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease"
  • Dr. Deborah Money, UBC "Prevention of vertical transmission of HIV; successess and remaining challenges"
  • Dr. Richard Harrigan, UBC "Personalized therapeutic approaches for HIV"
  • Dr. Hélène Côté, UBC "Accelerated cellular aging in HIV"
  • Dr. Victor Blanchette, University of Toronto "Childhood Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP): Unanswered Questions"
  • Dr. Patrick Provost, Université Laval "Platelet and HIV-1-derived microRNAs"
  • Dr. Shannon Meeks, Emory University "Hemophilia A: moving towards individualized treatment of
    patients with inhibitors"
  • Dr. Georges-Etiénne Rivard, University of Montreal "Quebec platelet disorder"

2014 Program

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | Simon Fraser University Segal Building, 500 Granville St., Vancouver, BC

Below, you can view the videos from the presentations:
Norman Bethune Symposium - Apr. 9, 2014 | Part I

  • 0:00:00 – 0:02:17 | Dr. Ed Conway, Opening Remarks
  • 0:02:18 – 00:04:39 | Dr. Shannon Jackson, Morning Session Chair
  • 0:04:40 – 0:26:32 | Dr. Mohammed Abuhaleeqa “Case Reports”
  • 0:28:54 – 1:19:00 | Dr. Man-Chiu Poon “Hemophilia in China – New Directions”
  • 1:20:40 – 1:44:36 | Dr. Gerry Growe  “Reflections on Hemophilia care in BC”
  • 1:46:50 – 1:58:04 | Mr. Rick Crook “Experiences with Hemophilia”
  • 1:59:35 – 2:17:30 | Shot-gun Poster Presentations

Norman Bethune Symposium - Apr. 9, 2014 | Part II

  • 0:01:45 – 0:42:47 | Dr. David Lillicrap “Hemophilia – the next generation”

Norman Bethune Symposium - Apr. 9, 2014 | Part III

  • 0:00:30 – 0:01:45 | Dr. Mark Scott, Afternoon Session Chair
  • 0:01:46 – 0:29:30 | Mr. Chris Arena “A life-time of Experiences with Ig”
  • 0:31:08 – 01:08:10 | Dr. Don Branch “IVIG – How does it work”
  • 01:09:20 – 1:48:37 | Dr. Cory Toth “IVIG in Neurology ”

Norman Bethune Symposium - Apr. 9, 2014 | Part IV

  • 0:01:24 – 0:48:49 | Dr. Frans Kuypers “The Dysfunctional Red Blood Cell Membrane in Hemoglobinopathies”
  • 0:48:52 – 1:32:30 | Dr. Mark Scott “The Immunologically ‘Invisible’ RBCs”
  • 1:33:05 – 1:48:20 | Dr. Musa Al Zahrani “Baffling cases in the blood bank”
  • 1:49:02 – 2:07:45 | Dr. Natalie Blaszczyk “Baffling cases in the blood bank”

Plenary Speakers: 

  • Dr. Man-Chiu Poon, MD, University of Calgary, "Hemophilia in China - New Directions"
  • Dr. David Lillicrap, MD, Queen's University, "Hemophilia - the Next Generation"
  • Chris Arena "A Lifetime of Experiences with Ig"
  • Dr. Don Branch, PhD, Canadian Blood Services, University of Toronto, "IVIG - How does it work"
  • Dr. Hatoon Ezzat, UBC, St. Paul's Hospital, "Transfusion challenges in hemoglobinopathies"
  • Dr. Mark Scott, PhD, Canadian Blood Services, "Hiding the antigens from the antibodies"

2013 Program

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre, 555 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC

Plenary Speakers: 

  • Roderick and Sharon Stewart,"Life and times of Norman Bethune"
  • Dr. Dana Devine, PhD, Canadian Blood Services, CBR & UBC, "Challenges in Blood Management - Canada and Beyond"
  • Dr. John Hartwig, PhD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, "Platelet synthesis and clearance"
  • Dr. Mel Krajden, MD, BC Centre for Disease Control, "Hepatitis C Virus: From discovery to cure"
  • Dr. Andre Smith, PhD, University of Victoria, "Blood donation and social capital"
  • Dr. James Zimring, MD, PhD, Puget Sound Blood Centre, "Basic biology of incompatible transfusion reactions"
  • Dr. Mark Yazer, MD, University of of Pittsburgh,  "TACO and other forgotten about reactions to platelets"
  • Dr. Tanya Petraszko, MD, UBC, "The BC Provincial Blood Coordinating Office"
  • Dr. Kate Chipperfield, MD, VGH & UBC, "More baffling cases in the blood bank"
  • Dr. Alan Lazarus, PhD, University of Toronto, "How do therapeutic immunoglobulins work"

2012 Program

Thursday, March 29, 2012 | Vancouver Sutton Place Hotel, 845 Burrard St.

Plenary Speakers:

  • Scott Davidson, Manager, Bethune Memorial House, "Life and times of Norman Bethune"
  • Dr. Mark Yazer, MD, U of Pittsburgh "It's not just sheep and dogs anymore: Transfusion through the ages"
  • Dr. Ross Brown, MD, UBC "Transfusion issues for the Canadian military in Afghanistan"
  • Dr. Jo Mountford, PhD, U of Glasgow "Blood Pharming: in vitro generation of RBCs for transfusion"
  • Dr. Graham Sher, MD, CEO, Canadian Blood Services, "Future directions in blood services"
  • Dr. Kevin Kain, MD, U of Toronto, "New biomarkers and interventions for life-threatening infections"
  • Dr. Kate Chipperfield, MD, UBC, "Intriguing blood transfusion cases"
  • Dr. John Wu, MD, UBC, "Exchange transfusions in the pediatric population"
  • Dr. Tom Neville, MD, UBC, "Myelodysplastic syndromes: New therapies and supportive care strategies"