AABB advances the practice of transfusion medicine

Oct. 1, 2015

For readers who are unfamiliar with the organization, how would you characterize the mission of AABB? AABB is an international, not-for-profit association that advances the practice and standards of transfusion medicine, cellular therapies, and patient blood management. We do this through developing and delivering standards, accreditation, and educational programs that focus on optimizing patient and donor care and safety. I like to think of our organization in two distinct ways: first as a very relevant professional medical society with an extraordinarily diverse membership; and second as a highly regarded global accreditation and standards-setting organization.

Miriam A. Markowitz, CEO

AABB CEO: May 2013-present; COO, Georgetown University Medical Center, Georgetown University: 2011-2013; Corporate VP of Strategy and Business Development, Children’s National Medical Center: 2004-2011

Professional volunteer activities have included serving on the board of the National Marrow Donor Program from 2008-2014; two-term mayoral appointee to the District of Columbia Board of Medicine from 2009-2012; adjunct professor at Georgetown University, School of Nursing & Health Studies.

BA in Economics, Brandeis University; MS in Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University

“In my free time, I am an avid reader and have just finished reading Epic Measures by Jeremy N. Smith and The Road to Character by David Brooks. I am also a lazy gardener and enjoy yoga and outdoor activities.”

What benefits does membership confer on laboratorians who work in the blood bank? AABB does a great job in creating timely resources and tools that are directly applicable to a member’s work and organization. Through committee work, leadership opportunities, mentor and mentee programs, and access to professional development resources, AABB assists all members in reaching their professional goals. I encourage all members to engage in their association by being informed, involved, and heard. When thinking about AABB membership, I also like to stress that professional development is not just about immediate access to traditional membership benefits. It is important to access the community and share your knowledge. AABB offers benefits that are designed to inform and challenge our membership.

AABB member benefits include access to the new AABB online community (AABB HUB); national policy and regulatory analysis; the opportunity to serve on AABB committees; online educational tools; discounts on publications, audioconferences, and registration fees for the AABB Annual Meeting; access to AABB CareerLink; and access to all of AABB’s communication tools including our scientific journal, TRANSFUSION.

How does AABB play a role in the continuing education of blood bankers? What are some key areas of educational efforts, e.g., ensuring the safety of the blood supply? AABB offers different educational approaches, from the most intimate one-on-one education through mentor/mentee relationships to distance learning opportunities, community forums, professional certificates, and our largest single continuing education opportunity, the AABB Annual Meeting. I think it is also important to remember that AABB encompasses much more than blood banking. AABB also addresses cellular therapies, patient blood management, relationship testing, and other specialty laboratory fields. We offer continuing education credits and play a role in continued education from informing our membership about regulatory changes to sharing knowledge of
emerging trends in the industry.

What role does AABB play as a public advocate with legislators, regulators, or other entities? What are some current issues on which AABB is currently taking the lead? AABB advocates for sustainability and safety in the blood supply as our upmost priority, and our advocacy agenda reflects this. We gather information from the full community of experts and key opinion leaders in their fields in order to engage with regulators and policy makers at the national and global levels. In particular, AABB is actively supporting U.S. donor hemovigilance with the release of an important benchmark study on blood use in the U.S. AABB also holds FDA liaison meetings to address industry challenges in transfusion medicine; supported the NIH’s State of the Science in Transfusion Medicine Symposium; and sponsors PBM symposiums.

AABB is committed to the adoption of the latest safety measures and continues to engage in the rapidly evolving area of cellular therapy and regenerative medicine. Through our participation with international groups such as the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine and the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, AABB works toward the harmonization of standards for hematopoietic cell transplantation and emerging cell therapies.

In addition, AABB is also currently advocating along with America’s Blood Centers, the American Red Cross, and the American Hospital Association on the important issues surrounding the proposed Medicare payment rates for all blood components provided in the hospital outpatient setting, which would have substantial effects for hospitals and blood centers.

AABB’s Annual Meeting is being held in Anaheim from October 24 through 27 this year. What are some of the highlights that attendees can look forward to? At this year’s meeting, attendees can look forward to learning more about critical regulatory updates, cutting-edge research, and trends in the field. Two important workshops are offered as well: the patient blood management workshop “Better Patient Care by Design” and a cellular therapies workshop on mesenchymal stem cells (or MSCs). Personally, I always look forward to our meeting for the excellent networking opportunities, ranging from the extensive international member presence to the chance for early career professionals to connect with industry veterans. Attendees have this incredible platform for connecting with their peers and an opportunity to connect with leaders in the commercial sector, who introduce and educate the community on the latest technologies and products to help improve donor and patient care and safety.

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