1st Annual International Symposium for the Global Eradication of Rh Disease

Event Logos





Symposium date:

November 1, 2018

Symposium venue:

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Morning sessions:  Bard Hall (50 Haven Avenue, New York, NY)

Afternoon sessions and reception:  Vagelos Education Building (104 Haven Avenue, New York, NY)


Although there is no charge for the meeting, we would appreciate it if you would register online here.

About the symposium:

2018 is the 50th anniversary of the regulatory approval of Rh immunoglobulin for human use. This landmark achievement, much of which was accomplished at Columbia University, aimed to eradicate hemolytic disease of the fetus & newborn due to anti-Rh(D) antibodies. Indeed, when women have access to appropriate care during the pre-natal period and at term, the combined use of antenatal and post-natal Rh immunoglobulin is 99% effective at preventing Rh disease.

As a result, Rh disease has virtually disappeared from Western Europe, Canada, the United States, and Australia. Nonetheless, Rh disease remains dismayingly prevalent in other parts of the world, leading to hundreds of thousands of families affected by repeated miscarriages, stillbirths, and neonates with severe hyperbilirubinemia who then develop kernicterus.

Thus, although the cure for Rh disease already exists, this devastating disorder is still commonly seen in much of the world due to both a lack of awareness and a lack of access to appropriate care.

Our international consortium of physicians, scientists, epidemiologists, midwives, global health advocates, and industrial partners is committed to “doing something” by initiating a series of pilot projects in underserved settings to help families now, and to demonstrate proof-of-principle approaches that can be scaled up in the future to serve large populations. To this end, Columbia University, on November 1, 2018, will be hosting a full-day symposium during which a roster of prominent speakers from around the world (see below), representing multiple medical specialties and points of view, will discuss these issues.

In addition, Dr. Peter Agre, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will present the 3rd Annual John Gorman Lectureship in Transfusion Medicine as part of the symposium. Although Dr. Agre won the Nobel Prize for his work on aquaporin, he also was one of the individuals who first cloned and sequenced the Rh gene. The title of his lecture is: “Aquaporin water channels – from Rh to Malaria”

For a list of all 2018 global eradication of Rh disease events, please click here.

Event Schedule:

8:30 AM Guests Check-in – Bard Hall (site of morning activities)
Coffee set-up in Bard Hall Lounge
9:00 AM Program begins in Bard Hall Lounge
Dean Lee Goldman, M.D. – Welcome (5 min.)
9:05 AM Video (10-15 min.)
9:20 AM Dr. Steve Spitalnik (15 min.)
"A call to action"
Welcome everyone, introduce the plan for the day, show 1-2 slides relating to the “gap analysis” to challenge us to “close the gap” over the ensuing years
9:35 AM Dr. Alvin Zipursky (15 min.)
Welcome everyone. Some historical perspective. Introduction of CURhE
9:50 AM Russia: Dr. Anton Mikhailov. “Rh-isoimmunization in Russia - perinatal problems and perspectives” (20 min.)
10:10 AM Break (15 min.)
10:25 AM Mini Talks/Symposium/Panel – The view from Nigeria
Dr. Angela Okolo, Ms. Funmi Banire, Mr. Hedegaard, Dr. De Giorgi (30 min.)
3-5 minute presentations, followed by Q&A
10:55 AM China: Dr. Tao Duan. “The Rh negative pregnancy and unmet need in China” (20 min.)
11:15 AM Mini Talks/Symposium/Panel – FIGO activities and accomplishments
Dr. Visser, Dr. Di Renzo
3-5 minute presentations, followed by Q&A
11:45 AM Hospital Program in Ghana: Dr. Isaac Odame; Community Program in Pakistan: Lisa Pell – (20 min.)
12:05 PM Mini Talks/Symposium/Panel – Production and Distribution of Rh Ig: Local & Global issues (RhoClone, country-specific production, “middlemen,” cold chain, etc.)
Dr. Marcela Contreras, Dr. Alvin Zipursky, Dr. De Giorgi
12:40 PM Break and walk to lunch in the Vagelos Education Building (VEC; the site of the afternoon’s activities)
1:00 PM Networking Lunch (60 min.) – VEC 401
Steering Committee Lunch – VEC 405
2:00 PM 3rd Annual John Gorman, MD, Lecture in Transfusion Medicine (60 min.)
VEC Auditorium (Introduction by Steven Spitalnik, Marialina Marcucci)
Peter C. Agre, M.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
“Aquaporin water channels – from Rh to Malaria”
3:00 PM Mini Talks/Symposium/Panel – Practical community issues
Dr. Jillian Baker (The voice of women), Ms. Christine Bales (Burden of Disease; AABB study); 10 minute presentations; Q&A will follow, if time allows
VEC Auditorium
3:30 PM NGO activities: MSF: Dr. Severine Caluwaerts; EMERGENCY: Dr. Raffaela Baiocchi
VEC Auditorium (15 min each)
4:00 PM Closing Remarks: Alvin Zipursky & Steven Spitalnik
4:05 PM Reception - VEC Lobby


(Confirmed as of October 30, 2018) 

Dr. Lee Goldman: New York, United States

Dr. Steven Spitalnik: New York, United States                                    

Dr. Alvin Zipursky: Toronto, Canada

Dr. Anton Mikhailov: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Dr. Tao Duan: Shanghai, China

Dr. Angela Okolo: Lagos, Nigeria

Ms. Funmi Banire: Lagos, Nigeria

Mr. Kasper Juul Hedegaard: Copenhagen, Denmark

Dr. Marcela Contreras: London, United Kingdom

Ms. Christine Bales: Bethesda, United States

Dr. Raffaela Baiocchi: Verona, Italy

Dr. Jillian Baker: Toronto, Canada

Dr. Gerhard Visser: Utrecht, The Netherlands

Dr. Gian Carlo Di Renzo: Perugia, Italy

Dr. Peter Agre: Baltimore, United States

Dr. Isaac Odame: Toronto, Canada

Dr. Severine Caluwaerts: Antwerp, Belgium

Dr. Gioacchino De Giorgi: Pisa, Italy

Dr. Lisa Pell: Toronto, Canada

Lead meeting sponsors: