Scholar to head research for blood agency

A UBC specialist in transfusion medicine has been named as the national director of research and development at Canadian Blood Services (CBS).

Associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Dana Devine will work with researchers across the country to design a strategic plan for research and development focused on blood safety, blood substitutes and alternatives to transfusions.

"This is an exciting chance to help improve the outlook for Canadian transfusion science," says Devine, a faculty member since 1987 and an associate member in the Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since 1990. "The new blood agency is strongly committed to research and development -- we'll be able to co-ordinate and stimulate transfusion medicine investigation and formalize a network of researchers across Canada."

The scope of CBS research ranges from watching for emerging blood-borne infectious agents to social science issues such as recruiting donors and re-establishing confidence in the blood service system.

"The recent blood supply crisis in Canada has made us look very carefully at blood pathogens and risks of transfusions," says Devine, who has been a senior research scientist with CBS and the Canadian Red Cross Society since 1987. "We're now investigating alternative approaches to routinely replacing blood through transfusions."

Risk of infection and limited supplies of blood have prompted scientists to investigate blood-sparing surgical procedures such as salvaging, cleaning and re-introducing blood lost during surgery.

There are about 1.3 million blood donors in Canada. An average of 100,000 units of blood is needed every year to support patient needs throughout B.C. and the Yukon.

Devine will continue to work at UBC while fulfilling the directorship.