CSTM 2024: Reflections from Canadian Blood Services trainees, part 1

Tuesday, July 09, 2024 Trainees

The Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine (CSTM) annual conference, held in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, took place on May 23-26, 2024, in Saskatoon with the theme of “Bridging transfusion communities.” 

Coinciding with CSTM, Canadian Blood Services' annual Research Day also provided a chance for Canadian Blood Services’ extended research network to collaborate, share their research, and connect. We asked two Canadian Blood Services research trainees to reflect on their experiences and key learnings from these events. Read on for their perspectives! 

This blog was prepared by Mahsa Yazdanbakhsh, a PhD candidate in Dr. Jason Acker’s lab in Edmonton, and Carina Paredes, a PhD candidate in Dr. Sandra Ramirez-Arcos' lab in Ottawa. Mahsa and Carina are recipients of Canadian Blood Services Graduate Fellowship Program as well as travel bursaries to support their attendance at these events. 

Two people standing beside each other with the Canadian Blood Services Research Day 2024 slides projected behind them
Carina (left) and Mahsa (right) are pictured attending Canadian Blood Services’ Research Day event in Saskatoon, May 2024. Photo provided by Emily Wright.

1. You both contributed as planning committee members for Research Day 2024; why were you interested in contributing in this way?  


I volunteered for the Research Day organizing committee because I wanted to improve skills such as leadership and organizational abilities and because I believe that actively participating at Research Day is an opportunity for us [trainees] to engage in knowledge dissemination, networking and collaboration that will support our future careers!   

The best part of participating in this event was being an active part of the organizing committee and connecting with trainees, scientists, and managers, which provided me with a great opportunity to network.   


I contributed to Research Day 2024 as a planning committee member and moderated a session of presentations. My role involved organizing speaker sessions and supporting team communication. Having attended previous Research Days, I was eager to help enhance the event and being on the planning committee gave me a deeper appreciation for the effort involved while collaborating with a dedicated team. I learned valuable skills in event planning, teamwork, and problem-solving. Additionally, it expanded my network and allowed me to connect with many professionals at Canadian Blood Services.  

It's important for trainees to be involved because it offers leadership experience and fosters a greater connection to the academic community. 

2. Did you also share your research during Research Day and/or CSTM and if so, in what ways? 


I was selected for a Poster presentation at CSTM and I was also able to briefly present it at Research Day. My poster was titled “Role of the efflux pump NorB in survival and increased quinolone resistance of Staphylococcus aureus grown in platelet concentrates.” Staphylococcus aureus is a round-shaped bacterium that is naturally found in the skin and mucosa of healthy humans. It is important to study because contamination of blood components with this bacterium is a major safety threat to transfusion patients. My work aims to unravel the role of a specific gene in antibiotic resistance and virulence of Staphylococcus aureus when grown in platelet components.  

“Having this opportunity to present my work allowed me to receive feedback from peers and experts from different areas of the transfusion medicine. I find this aspect of presenting and sharing my work very important especially because the feedback received will direct me to improve my work and attain stronger research outcomes.” 


I presented my research during CSTM and Research Day through a poster and a rapid trainee presentation. My poster was titled, "Osmotic Variability in Red Blood Cells from Different Blood Donor Groups." A typical red blood cell’s lifespan is 120 days. This study compared how younger and older red blood cells from frequent and non-frequent blood donors respond to osmotic changes. Osmotic changes relate to the balance of fluid within a cell. Results showed significant differences in osmotic response among different donor groups, and these results may be useful for optimizing blood product quality and functionality. 

“Sharing research at these events provides an opportunity to disseminate findings to a broader audience within the transfusion community, which is important because the research contributes to existing knowledge in the field and has the potential to influence future research directions and clinical practice.”  

Overall, presenting at Canadian Blood Services’ Research Day and CSTM allows for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and advancements in the field of transfusion medicine, ultimately benefiting patients and health-care providers alike. 

3. How many times have you attended Research Day and CSTM and what was your favourite moment or takeaway this year?  


I attended Research Day and CSTM in 2023 and 2024. I really enjoyed every day of this event, but the highlight of this year was to visit the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) facilities in Saskatoon and learn more about their very interesting work. I was very pleased to listen to the keynote speakers at CSTM and their opening remarks. 


This marked my third participation in CSTM and second in Research Day, and the highlight was the reunion with familiar faces after a year! Meeting my close friend, whom I hadn't anticipated seeing at CSTM, was particularly delightful and added an extra layer of joy to the event for me. 

4. What would you say to other trainees about Research Day and/or CSTM? 


It’s a great opportunity for improvement and promotes learning, collaboration and innovation. It also allows us trainees to learn from each other's experiences, receive feedback from experts, and improve our individual performance. 

“I would say to other trainees: Participate, be present and get involved! As a trainee, it is important to not only present our research, but also to engage in organizational activities that will build our skill set for our future career.” 


I would encourage other trainees to actively participate in both Research Day and CSTM. Attending Research Day provides a platform to present your work and receive constructive feedback, while CSTM offers a broader networking opportunity within the transfusion community. These events offer opportunities for trainees in Canadian Blood Services’ research and education network to share research findings, receive feedback, and network with peers and experts. 

“By participating in these events, you not only contribute to the advancement of knowledge in transfusion medicine but also refine skills and establish connections that can be beneficial for your future endeavors.” 

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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