2020-2021 annual progress report – A year marked by agility, collaboration, innovation, and excellence

Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Rising to the challenge

For Canadian Blood Services and its research and education network, the last fiscal year (April 2020 to March 2021) was marked by the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As you’ll read in our Centre for Innovation 2020-2021 annual progress report, what emerges from these difficult times are stories of agility and resilience, collaboration and partnership, and innovation and excellence. It was an outstanding year for Canadian Blood Services research. The report outlines the Centre for Innovation’s efforts to support the pandemic response and our ongoing work to sustain a safe, effective, and responsive blood system. By constantly adapting to changing circumstances, our research, development, training, and education programs continued to move forward with high-impact initiatives.

2020-2021 highlights

Supporting the pandemic response. Highlights include our work to inform public health decisions with seroprevalence studies as part of the federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and our contributions to the CONCOR-1 clinical trial to test the effectiveness of convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19.

Introducing new blood components. A process to manufacture INTERCEPT pathogen-reduced platelets within Canadian Blood Services was developed and will be implemented shortly, pending regulatory approval.

Informing blood utilization. Several studies have had an impact on how blood products are used, such as finding an effective alternative to IVIg - a blood product in high-demand and limited supply - to control bleeding for a certain patient group.

Improving donor selection. A research-informed process to expand donor eligibility for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to donate source plasma was developed and implemented in fall 2021 following Health Canada approval.

Guiding clinical practice. We supported the International Collaboration for Transfusion Medicine Guidelines (ICTMG) collaborative, which develops clinical guidelines and resources to optimize patient transfusion care. And through a national collaboration with Transfusion Camp, we supported the training of more than 300 health-care professionals in transfusion best practices.

Engaging and disseminating. We supported 160 investigators through competitive funding and distribution of products and data for research. The Centre’s research and education network published 210 peer-reviewed publications and 33 technical reports to support knowledge dissemination and decision-making.

  • Read the 2020-2021 Centre for Innovation annual progress report in English or French. 


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.