Female researcher peering through a microscope.

It’s hard to believe it’s already February — almost March, in fact. In the first two months of 2021, New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) has tackled a number of challenges, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, severe winter weather, and blood supply shortages. Still, NYBCe continues to shape the landscape of scientific discovery and fulfill their life-saving mission.

Every day, the organization collects thousands of units of blood and COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) to distribute to hospitals and patients throughout the Tri-State as well as Mid-Atlantic region, Missouri and Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Southern New England. NYBCe’s research division, the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI), simultaneously conducts groundbreaking research in transfusion medicine, epidemiology, hematology, infectious disease, and cell therapy.

While these daily operations are essential, there are exciting things on the horizon for the non-profit — and not just in 2021. Let’s take a closer look at some of NYBCe’s recent milestones.

Advancements in Sickle Cell Research

NYBCe is a leader in sickle cell disease research. Studies led by LFKRI’s Karina Yazdanbakhsh, PhD, have found that hemolytic stress can alter the behavior of major immune cell types as well as cells in the bone marrow, worsening sickle cell complications. These same cell types are impacted by transfusions, a lifesaving treatment for patients with sickle cell disease.

Dr. Yazdanbakhsh and her team of LFKRI investigators continue to study the consequences of transfusions in patients with sickle cell disease and develop strategies to optimize transfusion management for this patient group.

In August 2020, Dr. Yazdanbakhsh received a five-year $15.6M grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support this research. We are looking forward to seeing the team’s breakthroughs in 2021 and throughout the remainder of the grant.

Planning for New Center East Facility

In August 2020, NYBCe announced plans to update their headquarters on the Upper East Side. Currently, the Center East building is located in a Trade School and is home to NYBCe’s donor center, senior management, cellular therapy lab, and more. The proposed renovations will turn the building into a state-of-the-art facility, becoming the heart of New York City’s life science innovation ecosystem and a key part of the city’s pandemic response infrastructure.

The purpose-built, 596,000 gross-square-foot campus will modernize NYBCe from the ground up and maximize the building’s impact by creating space for an ecosystem with institutions and startups all working together under one roof. Planned in partnership with Longfellow Real Estate Partners, this facility will create a collaborative ecosystem that furthers life-saving research, drug commercialization and helps fuel economic growth in NYC.

The 16-story Center East building will also include shared and dedicated spaces to serve all the building’s tenants, including startups, industry groups, partner institutions and venture capital firms. Access and cross-collaboration between groups fosters unique partnerships that will lead to the advancement of the life sciences sector and the development of patient-ready solutions.

You can learn more about the Center East facility in this press release. Keep an eye for more information as planning continues throughout 2021.

Professional Education Opportunities

A key part of NYBCe’s mission is to educate the next generation of leaders in transfusion medicine, hematology, cellular therapy, and other related fields. One way the non-profit accomplishes this is through professional education opportunities.

Every year, NYBCe and its nine divisions offer a variety of ways for industry professionals to hone their skills. The Transfusion Medicine Fellowship Program, for example, trains physicians in the subspecialty of blood banking/ transfusion medicine. Participants spend a year at the New York Blood Center and at one of three partnership hospitals completing formal rotations in blood services, specialty testing, collections, cellular therapy, and regulatory affairs; hospital transfusion services; coagulation; and more.

In 2021, NYBCe is also reinventing their annual Essentials of Transfusion Medicine course. Previously held in person, the program was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Now, participants can join in every Wednesday afternoon for a lecture-based webinar series covering topics such as immunohematology, cell therapy, hemostasis, and more. The course also covers critical blood center processes, such as donor recruitment, blood component preparation, and donor infectious disease testing. Participants who complete the course and submit an evaluation will receive a P.A.C.E. certificate of attendance. Learn more about the Essentials of Transfusion Medicine Webinar Series schedule.

There are exciting things on the horizon for NYBCe — both in 2021 and beyond. However, they can’t do it without your support. The non-profit relies on financial contributions from generous donors to continue their groundbreaking research and daily life-saving operations. Donations also help the organization continue to collect and distribute COVID-19 convalescent plasma for patient use and conduct valuable COVID-19 research and vaccine development.

If you’d like to help NYBCe create a healthier future for all, please consider making a financial contribution online now. You can also reach out to learn about their philanthropic needs — both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Thank you for your generous support.