Tulane University researcher receives NIH Transformative Research Award

October 31, 2012

Arthur Nead
Phone: 504-247-1443


Biomedical engineering professor Sergey Shevkoplyas is designing new technology to make transfusions safer. (Photo: Paula Burch-Celentano)

Sergey Shevkoplyas, the Ken and Ruth Arnold Early Career Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Tulane University, has received a $2 million National Institutes of Health Director’s Transformative Research Award to make red blood cell transfusions safer.

“With nearly 15 million units of red blood cells transfused to about five million patients in the U.S. every year, red blood cell transfusion is one of the most commonly prescribed therapies for hospital inpatients,” says Shevkoplyas.

His proposal “Eliminating Mediators of Toxicity from Stored Blood,” will have a potentially game-changing impact on health care by dramatically improving the safety and efficacy of blood transfusions.

During storage, a significant fraction of the red blood cells become irreparably damaged and the storage medium accumulates known mediators of toxicity such as byproducts of red blood cell metabolism and degradation.  These toxic mediators and damaged cells reduce the therapeutic efficacy of transfusion and contribute to multiple adverse outcomes in about one to two percent of U.S. patients every year. 

Shevkoplyas’ goal is to develop technology that will remove storage accumulated mediators of toxicity during the transfusion process.

Shevkoplyas is one of only 20 researchers receiving a National Institutes of Health Director’s Transformative Research Award this year. These highly competitive awards encourage creative thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas about biomedical and behavioral research and to speed the translation of research into improved health.

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