Laboratory of Transfusion Biology

The research pursued in the Laboratory of Transfusion Biology focuses on the biology of blood cells from “birth to death,” along with the therapeutic implications of blood transfusions and the consequences of the pathological clearance of circulating blood cells. These studies are directed by three faculty members in the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology (Drs. Richard Francis, Eldad Hod, and Steven Spitalnik) and by one member of the Department of Pediatrics (Dr. Gary Brittenham), and also involve other Pathology faculty members (e.g., Drs. Joseph Schwartz and Tiffany Thomas).

Laboratory of Transfusion Biology - Pathology and Cell Biology

We use in vitro systems, mouse and dog models, and human studies to investigate important problems related to blood cell biology. We are particularly interested in improving the quality of red blood cell and platelet transfusions, and preventing or ameliorating the adverse effects resulting from this type of therapeutic intervention. For example, in the setting of red blood cells, we study the consequences of donor diets and genetics, refrigerated storage, alloimmunization, and hemolytic transfusion reactions. We also have a particular interest in the role of oxidative stress during refrigerated storage of red blood cells and its effects on red blood cell storage quality. In addition, we study the role of iron deficiency, iron supplementation, and iron metabolism in the biology of malaria, bacterial infections, and co-infections of malaria with bacterial pathogens. Results from these studies provided the impetus for the “iron hypothesis” to explain some of the adverse effects of red blood cell transfusion, particularly with regard to infectious disease. Because of the role of red blood cell transfusions in preparing patients for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, we have begun to examine the effects of iron overload in the host on their response to these transplants. The effects of iron supplementation and iron overload on the gut microbiome are also of interest. Furthermore, the impact of iron deficiency on blood donor health and red blood cell quality is another major focus of the laboratory. Finally, more recently, we began studying the effects of the storage of platelet units on their post-transfusion efficacy in humans.

Located in the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology in the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University, the laboratory’s current research studies are funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Blood Foundation, and the American Kennel Club.

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Contact Us

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center
630 West 168th Street
P&S Building, Room 14-434
New York, NY 10032
United States

Lab phone: 212-342-5648
Office phone: 212-342-5642

Lab Members


Human Trials

Animal Studies