New York Blood Center
310 East 67th Street headquarters
The New York Blood Center (NYBC) is a community, nonprofit blood bank based in New York City. Established in 1964 by Dr. Aaron Kellner, NYBC supplies blood to approximately 200 hospitals in the Northeast United States.
In addition to serving the New York City metropolitan area, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, in May 2014, NYBC merged its operations with Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City (CBC). In February 2016, NYBC and CBC announced the creation of the Kansas City-based National Center for Blood Group Genomics, a new laboratory that will focus on precision testing of blood donor samples.
In August 2016, NYBC also combined operations with Innovative Blood Resources, a blood center with operations in Minnesota and Nebraska.
NYBC maintains close relationships with both New York City's Police Department (NYPD) and Fire Department (FDNY). Among NYBC's largest donor groups is the NYPD, which donated more than 11,000 pints of blood through November 2015. At the same time, the FDNY participates with NYBC in the "Be The Match Program" operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). More than 8,000 FDNY members are on the potential donor list, and 179 members have already given this life saving gift to those in need. FDNY members represent more than 10% of all NYBC bone marrow donors. Each year, at an annual induction ceremony hosted by FDNY and NYBC at FDNY headquarters, donors and their recipients meet for the first time. In 2016, Firefighter Mike Wilson was introduced to a recipient from Erie, Pennsylvania, who received his lifesaving bone marrow to treat her acute myeloid leukemia (AML), while Firefighter Frank Perdue met a recipient diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia, a rare chronic blood disorder. In 2015, firefighter Michael McCauley of Staten Island met his recipeint, a United States Marine Sergeant who saw combat in Iraq, and who was subsequently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Through FDNY’s participation in NYBC’s program, McCauley’s bone marrow is credited with saving the recipient's life.
NYBC houses Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute and the Howard P. Milstein National Cord Blood Center, a public cord blood bank named after board member Howard Milstein. The National Cord Blood Program (NCBP), directed by Dr. Pablo Rubinstein, is the oldest and largest in the world. In August 2015, the NCBP announced a new collaboration with the University of California, Davis Health System to manufacture specialized lines of highly adaptable stem cells for potential new therapies for diseases that include anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease and severe combined immunodeficiency.
The Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) has been awarded grants to conduct research in such areas as epidemiology and the development of HIV self-testing interventions, cellular therapy and transfusion medicine, in vitro platelet production, blood genomics, immunology, the development of infectious disease screening techniques and preventions for diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
In 2013, LFKRI was awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant from a grant initiative engaging field leaders in global health to bring progress to targeted world problems. The Grand Challenges Explorations Grant was launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2007. The LFKRI used grant money to study the transmission of parasites from Filarial Worm larvae to humans in order to develop a preventative drug to kill mature worms and prevent parasitic infection.
In 2014, the New York Blood Center's National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) at the Howard P. Milstein Cord Blood Center received the Prix Galien USA “Best Biotechnology Product” distinction for the development of HEMACORD, an innovative hematopoietic stem cell product and the first of its kind to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
LFKRI also oversaw a clinical trial of Immucor’s PreciseType HEA test, resulting in the approval of the product by the FDA in October 2016. The PreciseType HEA test screens blood donors for sickle cell trait (SCT), an inherited blood disorder that affects 1 million to 3 million Americans, including 8-10% of African Americans. PreciseType HEA is the only FDA-approved molecular test that provides clinicians and blood banks with detailed genetic matching information. Through its work with cord blood, stem cells and sickle cell treatments, NYBC is a leader in precision medicine, which takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle to more accurately match treatments to individual patients.
Primate research in Liberia
For a thirty-year period starting in the mid-1970s, the NYBC conducted research experiments on a group of chimpanzees in Liberia. At the time, such primate testing was considered a standard part of medical research and drug development, reaching its peak in the early 1970s. After the studies were complete, NYBC moved the survivors onto six islands on the Farmington River. According to The New York Times, an NYBC employee stated at the time that NYBC recognized a responsibility for the lifetime care of the chimps, but NYBC disputes this, stating that its employee's comment was not authorized. The Times also noted that the quote in question was published in an article seeking financial support from a foundation for the care of the chimpanzees. The chimpanzees are owned by the Liberian government: NYBC voluntarily supported the chimps for seven years after its relationship with the Liberian government ended. NYBC argues that it spent millions on the chimps since the mid-2000s and "repeatedly" reached out to the Liberian government and animal rights groups "in an attempt to assist in a long term solution" but was ignored. In order to keep the chimps alive, locals who had been employed by NYBC to deliver food and water began to care for them on a volunteer basis. With virtually no resources and burdened by an Ebola outbreak, these volunteers kept the chimpanzees alive until a Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)-led coalition of over 30 animal conservation groups raised funds from the public to pay for the chimps' care on an emergency basis.
According to NBC's Today Show, NYBC held discussion with HSUS that ended unsuccessfully in the summer of 2016, but NYBC is open to partnering with other organizations. NYBC maintains they were confronted with requests that "have nothing to do with NYBC's original involvement in Liberia," which involved research "essential to the development of a hepatitis vaccine."
In June 2015, activist groups in New York launched a campaign to demand that the NYBC reinstate funding for the chimpanzees. The campaign consists of protests at the homes of board members and major donors who have refused to engage with the advocacy community. According to NBC News, the campaign has led to threats and social media campaigns that NYBC says have personally threatened their employees over the issue. On March 31, 2016, Citigroup, a former NYBC donor, issued a public statement asserting that "the situation is not tolerable" and made a $50,000 contribution to HSUS. On May 19, New York State Senator Tony Avella and New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal held a press conference at New York City Hall to demand that NYBC fulfill its promise to provide lifelong care for the chimpanzees.
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