Our History

Over the past six decades, NYBCe made significant contributions to transfusion medicine locally, nationally, and globally. Our contributions to community health during this vibrant period paved the way for the significant impact we will continue to make. NYBCe redefined and transformed our organization into Blood Services, Medical Services, Research, and the National Cord Blood Program. As we continue this focus, we expect to improve our community’s health further, and our future holds even more tremendous promise.

The First Decade: 1964 – 1973

During NYBCe’s first decade, man first set foot on the moon. Our focus was to provide a safe and reliable blood supply for the region.

1964

Support generated by the Community Blood Council of Greater New York and the Public Health Committee of the NY Academy of Medicine’s study of Human Blood in New York City leads to NYBC being established with Aaron Kellner, MD as President. Our Greater NY Blood Program started collecting and supplying blood to area hospitals. Research underway included Dr. Kellner studying the relation of fat in the blood to heart disease and Dr. Fred Allen studying blood groups and human genetics.

1965

The first centrally administered Blood Donor Program is established for municipal employees (now contributing nearly 40,000 donations annually to support our community). The first “rare blood” registry is established for the NY metropolitan area (previously this blood was obtained from Seattle, Milwaukee and Miami).

1966

NYBC receives four National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants for a Research Resource Program, Blood Group Antigen-Antibody Reactions, Mobilization of Lipids in Living Animals, and Relation of Ferritin to Iron Metabolism.

1967

(American Medical Association (AMA) Today’s Health reports on NYBC’s progress in cryobiology in “Super-Cold: The ‘Hottest’ Thing in Science.”

1968

Education and training for medical professionals begin with an emphasis on blood group serology and blood bank technology, as well as medical graduate student programs. The Laboratory of Virology, under the direction of Alfred Prince, MD, establishes serum hepatitis lab testing. It becomes known as the “Euroblood Collaboration” with Red Cross centers in Switzerland, West Germany, and Belgium. It accounts for 10-37% of NYBC’s supply.

1969

Greater NY Blood Program combines the services and facilities with Community Blood Council and the American Red Cross and later becomes NYBC. NYBC becomes the first US blood center licensed to fractionate transfusable products from plasma. 196,808 units of blood is collected from over 172,000 donors. 77% of blood is collected from mobile blood drives at businesses, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and government offices.

1971

Automation begins to pave the way for reduced processing times and productivity improvements.

1973

Renovation of the 310 East 67th Street headquarters completed through support of the Capital Fund Campaign. The committee chaired by then President of NY Telephone, William Ellinghaus. 383 kidneys are donated to the NY-NJ Regional Transplant Program (RTP) supported briefly by centralized resources from NYBC. NYBC/Community Blood Council organizes a 1-3 year Post Doctoral Clinical and Research Training Program for Blood Bank Directors in recognition of an acute shortage of qualified professionals.

The Second Decade: 1974 – 1983

During NYBCe’s second decade, the VCR was invented and the world was captivated by Star Wars. We began developing specialized services to meet hospital and patient needs

1974

  • NYBC is organized into five primary areas: Blood, Blood Derivatives, Research, Transplantation, and Education. Central Administrative Services is included.
  • NYBC adds a second “Groupamatic 360” to further expand testing and improve safety.
  • 70 Research Grants bring in $3.25 million dollars for projects.

1975

  • Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute increases staff significantly to 140 including 46 doctoral level scientists.
  • The NYBC Education Department develops the first Blood Bank Directors Training Program for physicians along with a Technician Training Program for licensed technicians and a Summer Research Fellowship Program for college students.
  • NYBC organizes the first LC Dunn Lecture Series in honor of the late Columbia University Professor who was one of the world’s leading geneticists and a charter member of NYBC’s Community Blood Council Scientific Council.

1976

  • Euroblood units contribute 199,328 units to the total 619,990 units collected with nearly 300 hospitals served by NYBC.
  • BLOODNET, one of the first computer programs for testing, labeling, storing and shipping blood, is established as a joint venture between the blood program and the Operations Research Laboratory (Eric Brodheim working with Dr. Fred Allen).
  • Ninety research papers are published, including essential studies by Pablo Rubinstein, MD of the Laboratory of Immunogenetics, and Wolf Szmuness, MD of the Laboratory of Epidemiology.

1977

  • NYBC officially changes its name from Community Blood Council of Greater New York to New York Blood Center.
  • NYBC’s single donor cytopheresis program (for separating platelets and white cells while returning plasma and red cells to the donor) expands to over 3,000 volunteer donors typed for HLA antigens on their white blood cells and platelets.
  • NYBC’s Blood Derivatives Program processes a record 53,741 liters of plasma for clinical use in area hospitals.

1978

  • NYBC licenses the first low cost HBV (Hepatitis B) vaccine, a technology developed by Dr. Alfred Prince and the staff of the Laboratory of Virology. Over 75 million low cost doses produced for public sector immunization prevent an estimated 1 million cases of liver cancer.

1979

  • NYBC completes financing for the expansion of its Melville Laboratories with a $12.5 million dollar privately placed bond issued by the Dormitory Authority of New York State.
  • NYBC signs a long-term agreement for the preparation of blood plasma derivatives with the American Red Cross.
  • NYBC pioneers the use of bar-coding in blood banking operations, now standard throughout the world in reducing the possibility of human error and speeding blood product processing.

1980

  • A facility for the production of plasma derivatives opens as part of NYBC’s Long Island Blood Services operation, and annual production capacity increases from 60,000 liters to 300,000 liters along with the preparation of new plasma products with therapeutic potential.
  • NYBC’s Derivatives Program receives a $976,000 grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for a three-year study of the investigative drug Interferon.

1981

  • Blood usage increases at a rate of approximately 5% per year largely due to advances in medicine and surgery and the aging of the population.
  • NYBC’s first volunteer blood donor campaign (headed by NYBC’s Chairman of the Board, at the time also President of Citibank, the late William Spencer) achieves a first-year increase of 7% in collections. It produces a record 260,000 platelets primarily for treating cancer patients.
  • NYBC’s Blood Program is first to create the Cell Isolation and Analysis Laboratory with a fluorescence activated cell sorter to separate, classify and study blood lymphocytes.
  • 1982
    • Blood Collections include 246,434 units from Euroblood of the 716,709 total collected. New York Blood Services collected 30% while Long Island Blood Services collected 17%, New Jersey Blood Services collected 10% and Hudson Valley Blood Services collected 9% of the total.
    • Dr. Cladd Stevens begins AIDS research project while Dr. Pablo Rubinstein studies changes in the immune system of AIDS patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma.
    • Drs. Prince, Neurath and Horowitz begin studies on the inactivation of viruses.

1983

  • NYBC pioneers a Home Care Convenience Kit for hemophilia patients containing coagulation materials and self administration equipment. Today in cooperation with the Hemophilia Consortium, NYBC’s Hemophilia Services division has provided products and services to over 50,000 patients – locally and regionally.
The Third Decade: 1984 – 1993

During NYBCe’s third decade, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of Communism in Europe. NYBCe continued to expand focusing our research efforts on HIV and hepatitis.

1984

  • Total Blood Collections reach 772,359 units with Euroblood supplying 289,735 units (the largest number of Euroblood units provided due to the AIDS crisis).
  • NYBC’s Transfusion Medicine Training program continues to train physicians and is responsible for training 30% of transfusion medicine professionals in our region’s hospitals. High school and undergrad college students also receive training from a grant by the Department of Health and Human Services.

1985

  • Public health officials estimate 1 – 1.5 million Americans are infected with AIDS, with an estimated 3% of AIDS cases due to transfusion-related incidents.
  • NYBC introduces confidential self-exclusion for all blood donors, pioneered by Dr. Johanna Pindyck. The procedure becomes a global model that impacts blood safety during a critical time of AIDS-related concerns and fears.
  • Eight major AIDS research projects by NYBC are funded with grants totaling $2 million.
The Fourth Decade: 1994 – 2003

During NYBCe’s fourth decade, the United States both enjoyed economic prosperity and mourned the tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attack. NYBC further expanded services especially in the area of the National Cord Blood Program where our scientists shared clinical experiences and outcomes of transplant patients.

1994

  • Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology established to investigate stem cell function at cellular and molecular levels.
  • Researchers in the Laboratory of Virology and Parasitology achieve a breakthrough in hepatitis C research, visualizing the naked virus.

1995

  • Restructuring of Melville Biologics, formerly a division of NYBC, into a separate for-profit subsidiary which becomesa publicly traded company in 1977 called V.I.Technologies (VITEX).
  • NYBC’s Placental Cord Blood Program (now known as the National Cord Blood Program) surpasses the 6,000 unit milestone of cord blood units collected & stored.

1996

  • Revenues surpass the $200 million level with close to $50 million coming from Testing and Special Services and $25 million from royalties and contributions.
  • NYBC files with the FDA for clinical trials for the Placental Cord Blood Program, which has shown success in over 200 unrelated gravely ill patients.

1997

  • Blood Services holds over 6,000 blood drives to meet the blood needs of our region.
  • The Hematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory processes over 900 units of stem cells.

1998

  • Robert L. Jones, MD, becomes New York Blood Center’s 3rd President and outlines a comprehensive strategic plan to examine, re-shape and implement a decentralized blood services organization to improve our effectiveness as a community blood service.
  • Laboratory of Parasitology, under Sara Lustigman, PhD, makes important progress at identifying an agent to prevent one of the most common malaria-causing parasites from binding to red cells.
  • Dr. Pablo Rubinstein and colleagues publish a landmark paper in the New England Journal of Medicine documenting the world’s largest clinical experience of outcomes among patients using placental cord blood for stem cells as compared to bone marrow.

1999

  • Total Blood Collected is 633,644 units with 200,877 units coming from The Euroblood Program
  • NYBC scientists have identified over ⅓ of the currently known (over 450) blood group antigens.

2000

  • Local blood donations increase by 10% over the previous year.
  • NYBC expands transfusion services provided to Westchester Medical Center to include NYBC staff and management at Nyack Hospital.
  • The Yankee High School Blood Donor Championship brings in more than 30,000 blood donations increasing the cumulative contribution level to over 200,000 since 1996.
  • Fibrinogen research is a leading focus of research at NYBC’s Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute and helped heart disease research.

2001

  • The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center brings out thousands of donors and volunteers at this time of great sadness for our country.
  • Brooklyn/Staten Island Blood Services increases donation by 28% over the previous year. This new blood services division of NYBC started in 1999.
  • Long Island Blood Services division program aimed at prospective jurors yields 3,000 donations in its first year.
  • New Jersey Blood Services division brings platelet collections to mobile units.
  • NYBC collaborates with the Academic Medicine Development Corporation (AMDeC) in the New York Cancer Project, a 20 year study, to learn how various factors affect a person’s chance of developing cancer.

2002

  • Free genetic screening for hereditary hemochromatosis (excess iron) piloted in our Long Island Blood Services division.
  • Special Donor Services passes the 175,000 mark for people enrolled in the National Donor Marrow Program.
  • The Complement Biology Research Program receives a grant from the National Health Institute (NIH) and the American Heart Association (AMA) to study the immune response that seeks to destroy mismatched transfused blood.
  • NYBC’s Euroblood Program ends due to FDA concern of Mad Cow Disease.

2003

  • Total Collections of 644,239 units with 115,963 from other US blood sources and 39,768 from Euroblood.
  • The National Marrow Donor Program at NYBC celebrates the 500th stem cell donation.
  • NYBC’s Transfusion Medicine program continues with an international training program for transfusion safety sponsored by SUNY at Brooklyn and the Fogarty Foundation of the NIH.
  • The Laboratory of Biochemical Virology continues efforts to develop a topical microbicide for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases as Phase I human clinical trials get underway.
  • NYBC licenses the research of Dr. Shibo Jiang of the Laboratory of Viral Immunology to Trimeris, Inc, as an anti-HIV drug targeting HIV fusion proteins.
The Fifth Decade: 2004 – 2013

During NYBCe’s fifth decade, social media exploded and forever changed the way we communicate. NYBCe’s fourth President and CEO, Christopher D. Hillyer, MD, began transforming the organization to compete more effectively with a focus on Excellence, Quality, Service, and Innovation in Transfusion Medicine.

2004

  • NYBC’s National Cord Blood Program receives the 25,000th umbilical cord blood donation as it continues building inventory to meet diverse transplant needs. 
  • NYBC achieves self-sufficiency in platelet donations and launches a new Donor Relationship Management (DRM) system to better address the needs of blood and platelet donors.

2005

  • The first stem cell bill (Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005) is signed into law by President George W. Bush, enabled by NYBC efforts on Capitol Hill. The Act provides subsidies to NYBC and other public cord blood banks.

2006

  • Marion E. Reid, PhD is honored as the first International Women in Transfusion Award recipient. Under Dr. Reid’s direction and leadership, the Immunohematology Laboratory has identified red blood cell antigens that improve patient transfusion outcomes.
  • NYBC’s Precise Match® program is launched to expand the donor base of African American, Hispanic, East and South Asian donors to better serve the antigen specific needs of diverse patient populations.
  • Rona S. Weinberg, PhD, of NYBC’s Stem Cell Laboratory, establishes the Myeloproliferative Disorders Research Consortium (MPD-RC) tissue bank at NYBC. The bank provides researchers with access to biologic samples linked to clinical data to support research.

2007

  • Wilbur Armstrong, a lifelong platelet donor from LI who is legally blind, is recognized as one of “CNN’s Heroes” for his extraordinary service with over 600 patients helped through his platelet donations.
  • Beryl Koblin, Ph.D., addresses the 10th Annual HIV Awareness Symposium in Harlem, highlighting the vaccine studies of her teams at LFKRI’s Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention and Project ACHIEVE.
  • Asim Debnath, Ph.D., of LFKRI’s Laboratory of Molecular Modeling and Drug Design, uses structure-based design to modify a cell impermeable linear peptide to a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP, which can inhibit HIV-1 in cell cultures – the first discovery of its kind).
  • NYBC opens a new facility in Long Island City, creating a modern center for research, lab services, and blood processing. The project receives Building Magazine’s Grand Prize in Modernization.

2008

  • NYBC’s Little Doctors® program continues to provide elementary and middle school students with the educational tools they need to help organize community blood drives. Over 600 schools have sponsored blood drives as part of the initiative.

2009

  • Christopher D. Hillyer, MD joins NYBC as the fourth President and CEO further strengthening the organization’s focus on strategic objectives centered on Excellence, Quality, Service, Innovation and Leadership.

2010

  • NYBC is honored with the ADRP (Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals) Public Service Announcement of the Year Award for the media campaign “The Firefighter and the Doctor – Why Blood Donation Matters.”
  • Connie Westhoff, Ph.D. SBB joins NYBC to lead the Laboratory of Immunohematology and Genomics, continuing the team’s work in identifying new blood group antigens and supporting specialized patient transfusion needs across the region and worldwide.

2011

  • NYBC redoubles its commitment to hospital customers and launches a comprehensive Customer Care Center (CCC) in Long Island City to continue improving the customer experience.
  • NYBC receives the first approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market HEMACORD®(HPC,cord blood) the first FDA licensed cellular therapy product to treat patients with disorders affecting the hematopoietic system.

2012

  • Over 300 scientists participate in the Perspectives in Cord Blood Biology and Clinical Applications symposium. Participants also visit the state-of-the-art National Cord Blood Program processing laboratory in Long Island City and meet with Pablo Rubinstein, MD, and his team.
  • NYBC contributes its professional expertise to the field of transfusion medicine with activities including sponsorship of the National Blood Foundation (NBF), appointments to the board of directors of the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies (AABB), America’s Blood Centers (ABC) and, the National Blood Foundation, and an appointment to the editorial board of TRANSFUSION.

2013

  • NYBC’s Sara Lustigman, Ph.D. from the Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, receives an NIH grant for developing an Antigen-sparing Adjuvant for Vaccines to fight new influenza strains, HIV, SARS, West Nile, and the increased threat of bioterrorism.
  • HEMACORD®, the first FDA licensed Stem Cell Product is nominated for the Prix Galien USA “Best Biotechnology Product” Award. The award recognizes products that advance the human condition.
  • The Laboratory of Social and Behavioral Sciences, headed by Victoria Frye, MPH, DrPH, receives funding to develop and pilot-test a community-level anti-HIV stigma and homophobia intervention.
  • The Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention, under the leadership of Beryl A. Koblin, Ph.D., receives funding to address low HIV testing rates in young African Americans and to evaluate a brief online HIV testing intervention for mobile devices.
  • NYBC completes the acquisition of Coral Blood Services from Hemacare Corporation and expands apheresis service offerings in the region with 24 additional staff.