Dr. Dana Devine assumes presidency of Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies

Our chief scientist is the second Canadian to lead this important international body

October 27, 2021
Canadian Blood Services chief scientist Dana Devine in office

As it heads into its 75th anniversary year, the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB) has selected a Canadian leader for the second time in its history.

Dr. Dana Devine, Canadian Blood Services’ chief scientist as well as the director of the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia, became the association’s president on Oct. 19, 2021. That role was also held by Canadian Blood Services’ CEO Dr. Graham Sher in 2013-2014.

AABB began as the American Association of Blood Banks in 1947. Its new name reflects its broader, more international modern-day mission: to improve lives by making transfusion medicine and biotherapies safe, effective and available worldwide. Dr. Devine’s term as president coincides with the association’s launch of its new brand.

Dr. Devine specializes in blood system management and transfusion research and is a former editor-in-chief of the blood transfusion journal Vox Sanguinis. She has already served on the board of AABB for several years, and is excited to continue driving important change from the top. That includes work to help move U.S. blood operators to a new way of processing blood into components.

The amazing journey of donated blood

“The U.S. is struggling. They have institutions that are high volume platelet users that are cancelling transfusions and postponing elective surgeries because they don’t have platelet products,” says Dr. Devine. “The manufacturing method that we use in Canada would be a very good way to solve their platelet shortage.”

Improving blood systems in Canada and abroad

She also hopes to build a strong relationship between AABB and the International Society for Blood Transfusion, and to work with that society’s board to help advance new joint projects. And she hopes her role at this international table can help bring particular enhancements to the blood system in Canada as well. Currently, she notes, whole blood transfusion, which is being used to effectively treat some trauma patients in the U.S., is not yet available in Canada. She also hopes work within AABB can help move blood operators including Canada’s toward some use of freeze-dried plasma, a product first pioneered by Canada for the treatment of wounded soldiers in the Second World War. A modern version could help blood operators manage this important blood component even more efficiently.

Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, praised Dr. Devine’s selection as AABB president, calling it “great for Canada and great for our organization.”

“Canada makes a disproportionately large contribution to the fields of transfusion medicine and transfusion science, and Dana is an important part of that,” says Dr. Sher. “She is globally recognized, and it’s great to see her assume this leadership role.”

Dr. Devine agrees that Canadians are making a powerful mark on the world stage. As just one example, she points to Canadian Blood Services’ netCAD Blood4Research facility, which collects blood from committed donors for research to drive advances in blood collection, manufacturing and storage. Blood operators in both Australia and the United States are using the facility as a model for building their own, she notes.

Still, in her new leadership role at AABB, Dr. Devine is eager to keep the dialogue flowing both ways.

“I’m very interested in feedback from the membership,” she says. “If they have ideas, or things they’d like to see the organization doing, they should feel free to reach out to me.”

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