20th anniversary celebration at the Centre for Blood Research (CBR): commemorating two decades of historical milestones and outstanding achievements

Tuesday, August 22, 2023 John Perrier

Our partnership with the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) at the University of British Columbia is helping to train the next generation of researchers in transfusion science. This blog post highlights just some of the achievements in education, training or knowledge mobilization accomplished by CBR trainees. 

This is an edited repost of a blog written by John Perrier, a graduate student in the Pryzdial Lab at CBR, that originally appeared on the Centre for Blood Research blog in August 2023. The original post was edited by Dr. Emily Park, a postdoctoral fellow (Ma Lab), and Alexandra Witt, a graduate student (Pryzdial Lab) at CBR. 

On July 7th the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) celebrated its 20-year anniversary, inviting CBR alumni to join current members in learning about the beginnings of the centre. This celebration featured an array of engaging activities, from blood-related trivia that intrigued the curious minds to captivating talks delivered by CBR’s principal investigators Dr. Ed Pryzdial and Dr. Chris Overall, as well as a panel discussion featuring past, current, and original CBR members, providing unique insights into the centre’s evolution.  

Revisiting the creation of the Centre for Blood Research

The celebration began with a founder’s talk by Dr. Ross MacGillivray, the founding director of the centre. Dr. MacGillivray took the audience back to 2002, when the idea of forming an interdisciplinary centre first arose. In response to the Krever inquiry, Dr. MacGillivray and fellow blood researchers Drs. Don Brooks, Dana Devine, Charles Haynes, and Grant Mauk sought to create a space for interdisciplinary research in blood and transfusion medicine to excel.  

The founders secured $15 million in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, with 40% of the support provided by the government of British Columbia. In a collaborative approach with the University, the CBR provided a portion of these funds towards the construction of the new Life Sciences Institute (LSI) in 2004, resulting in occupancy of the fourth floor. Dr. MacGillivray highlighted the importance of the relationship that the CBR has maintained between academia and industry, benefiting from the strong support of partners such as Bayer and the Canadian Blood Services. 

group photo at the CBR
Dr. Ross MacGillivray, the founding director of the CBR, is pictured in the centre of the front row in this group photo taken at the 20th anniversary celebration.

Settling into excellence at the LSI 

Dr. Ed Pryzdial continued the journey by discussing the operations of the first couple of years at the new Life Sciences Institute. Moving multiple labs into the new space revealed areas of the design plan that needed some extra love and attention. Working out these kinks resulted in a state-of-the-art facility, where research could be conducted close to many collaborators of varying areas of expertise. Then came the challenge of connecting with leaders across Canada and the world, a task which the CBR continues to uphold today. 

Dr. Chris Overall shed light on the collaborative efforts of the original CBR members successfully securing grants that kickstarted research in the centre, also allowing for the recruitment of new members. 

Perspectives from the many generations of the CBR

Members of the CBR Graduate Award Program (GAP) invited Dr. Ed Pryzdial (Principal Investigator), Eva Yap (former CBR Researcher, MSc, Med) and Daniel Luo (PhD Student) for a panel discussion on career progression in academia, how the CBR has supported learning and well-being, and how to empower the next generation of scientists.  

Trivia time: Blood and brain teasers

The GAP hosted an engaging round of blood-related trivia. Questions ranged from fun facts about founding members of the centre to identifying the compound in horseshoe crabs that makes their blood blue! The competition was fierce, with new winners emerging in each round. Ultimately, Katherine Serrano took first place, followed by Steven Jiang in second, and John Perrier third. Katherine expressed her joy at winning the trivia quiz and shared her deep connection with the CBR. “The CBR is a very special place to me with many great memories. I’ve been with the CBR from the beginning, 20 years ago. It’s wonderful to be back here, surrounded by so many familiar faces,” she said, reflecting on the cherished moments at the CBR. 

people having food and drinks in a large space
The CBR’s 20th anniversary celebration concluded with a dinner and social gathering, where many generations of the CBR had an opportunity to meet and enjoy delicious food and drink.

The CBR’s 20th anniversary was organized by recipients of the 2022-2023 CBR Graduate Award Program (GAP). The CBR thanks Ahmed Kabil, Deasung (Jayden) Jang, Elyn Rowe, Felix Hong, Henry West, Loulou Cai, Marie Johns, Peyman Malek Mohammadi Nouri and the CBR Education Program Manager, Dr. Parvin Bolourani, for their tremendous efforts in arranging this anniversary event. It was an evening filled with laughter, pride, and great conversations. It was fabulous to have Dr. MacGillivray and many others back in the building, the centre looks forward to what the next 20 years have in store! 

Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation  

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact.  

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency. 


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