Member spotlight

Learn more about some of the members of ISBT around the globe, what they've achieved within the organisation, and how their organization have benefitted from their involvement. Nominate yourself, your institution, or another member for one of our monthly spotlights.

Jason Acker

ISBT Scientific Secretary (2002-2025)

What started your interest in Blood Transfusion?

As a graduate student working in a cryobiology research lab, I was pulled into various projects that were looking at improving the methods used to cryopreserve hematopoietic stem cells. While my thesis work focused on studying ice formation and its contribution to cryoinjury, these sideprojects really helped me appreciate the need for improvements to the quality of stored blood products. After my post-doctoral fellowship in Boston, I was invited by Canadian Blood Services to join their research team and apply my expertise in cell stabilization to help improve blood product quality. From there, I quickly became fascinated with how quality was impacted by so many of the choices made across the vein-to-vein continuum and how these can impact transfusion recipient outcomes.

How did this interest develop and what are your main topics of interest now?

I have been very fortunate to have been able to participate and lead several innovative programs at Canadian Blood Services that have helped me apply my training and experience in medical sciences and technology commercialization to solve important technical and scientific challenges that we face in transfusion medicine. This includes the development of pioneering blood product quality testing programs and a product and processes innovation centre that has allowed us to generate new knowledge and apply that to changes within the blood manufacturing facility and hospital transfusion services. My research team is currently working with collaborators to understand how blood donor factors (age, sex, ethnicity, frequency of donation) and changes to donor screening affect the quality of red blood cell products. Our focus has been on understanding the biological effects that donorassociated changes have on blood components to determine if changes to donor screening, blood component manufacturing or storage can be used to enhance the safety and quality of our blood products. In addition, we are contributing to national studies linking data on donors, products and recipient outcomes. This information can inform clinical studies to better understand transfusion and blood product utilization. In addition, we are working with international partners to develop innovative tools to examine non-invasively the effects of donor factors on the quality of blood cells.

What have been the most rewarding times in your career?

Research can be an unforgiving endeavor and one must be pathologically optimistic to be successful. Discovery, whether it is a new idea or a solution to a difficult problem, has been a common element in many of the most rewarding times in my career. In our exploration of how cells survive stress, I have been fortunate to have made observations that have challenged long-standing tenets and experienced the thrill of seeing how that has changed what is written in text books. Celebrating with international colleagues after a manuscript is accepted in a highimpact journal makes all of the funding and operational challenges and long hours in the lab worth it. Equally rewarding has been witnessing the growth in confidence, skill and knowledge of the 300+ trainees that I’ve had the privilege of mentoring. I take great joy in seeing all of them succeed and go on to do great things!

What made you decide to apply for the post of Scientific Secretary of the ISBT?

We all remember that first ISBT congress that we attended. The excitement that we had in realizing that there was a global community working to build the evidence-base needed to deliver on the promise of a safer blood system. Being able to attend scientific, technical and education sessions that opened our eyes to the complexity of blood transfusion and introduced us to the passionate and inspirational knowledge leaders that are making an impact. We had the opportunity to make new acquaintances, develop new collaborations, see the latest technologies, hear from world experts and explore a new part of the world. As the ISBT Scientific Secretary, I would have a role in helping to define what that first ISBT congress experience is for the next generation of transfusion medicine professionals. How exciting is that!

What are your personal goals in relation to ISBT?

I am personally looking forward to meeting new people from around the world and learning about the challenges and opportunities that they face in their own blood / transfusion services. By sharing experiences, we can all benefit from the collective wisdom that exists in our community.

What energizes you most at work? What energizes me is the knowledge that through the work of my team and my collaborators, we have a direct impact on the lives of transfusion recipients. The technical and scientific support we provide helps Canadian Blood Services make critical decisions about the quality of the products that we are collecting, manufacturing and distributing. Our basic discovery work is translated into new processes, technologies or commercial products. As a research scientist with Canadian Blood Services, I can look back at our accomplishments every year and see how we have had the opportunity to have a measurable impact on the lives of Canadians.

 

Meet other ISBT Members

Nour Hisham Al-Mozain

Hematopathology and Transfusion Medicine Physician, London UK (originally from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

What inspired you into blood transfusion?
My passion for transfusion medicine has started by realizing the profound interaction between basic science, laboratory medicine, and clinical practice. It is an opportunity to learn a new thing every day. You are not only required to identify what went right and what went wrong. However, you will constantly be stimulated to determine further what could be done better and forecast a better practice for the future. Adding to all of that, The are not many doctors around the world who are encouraged to have this as a specialty, so I have decided to have it as my career to provide patient care uniquely and differently. Besides, I am a big advocate for this specialty among the younger generation.

What is the best thing about your current role?
Being a lifelong learner.

What made you join ISBT?
As if have mentioned, they are not many physicians in this specialty, I have decided to join the ISBT to engage and learn from experts around the world and participate in advancing the research and knowledge worldwide

What do you hope to get out of your membership with ISBT?
One to one virtual mentorship would be very precious for young professionals. Also, ISBT would provide a virtual fellowship program for one year coordinated with specific accredited training centers worldwide, which would help interested doctors pursue their specialization in Transfusion medicine where advanced training is not provided.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
I am inspired by many people in the field, Mike Murphy, Joe chiffon, Justin Kreuter, Arwa Alriyami, and from my nation, Hind AlHumaidan and Salwa Hindawi. I like how all these people are passionate about the field and contribute to advancing the knowledge and understanding and patient care locally and in workld wide.

Want to get featured?

Share your story with our community, inspire blood transfusion professionals, and strengthen awareness of the profession and the benefits of being a member of ISBT. Each month we’ll highlight an individual member in our monthly newsletter and online. Nominate yourself or another member by filling out the the questionnaire below.