Dr. Eloise Giblett paved the way at Bloodworks Northwest

March 15, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Dr. Eloise GiblettFormer Bloodworks Northwest director Dr. Eloise Giblett made groundbreaking discoveries in immunology, paved the way for leukemia treatment, and raised standards of safety and equity in blood donation—at a time when women were few and far between in her field.

Dr. Eloise Giblett was a legend in hematology. Her research made blood transfusions safer, more effective, and more equitable—and led to the discovery of treatments still used today.

Before she became the first female executive director of Bloodworks Northwest, then Puget Sound Blood Center, Eloise had a long career both at the blood bank and in research at the University of Washington. But first, as a young girl in Tacoma, Washington, she studied the violin, a passion she’d maintain throughout her life.

She began her lifelong love of science in college. Initially majoring in English at Mills College, she changed majors to chemistry and eventually transferred to study Bacteriology, now known as Microbiology, at the University of Washington.

It’s around this time she gained her nickname, Elo, which would affectionately follow her for the rest of her life—and mark her work permanently. The ELO antigen, a red blood cell antigen, is named for her.

While still in her early twenties, Elo made her first major discovery: While working in the clinical laboratory of the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, she found that it was possible to diagnose meningococcemia on a stained blood smear.

Upon receiving her Masters in Microbiology from UW in 1951, Elo was one of just five women in her 52-person graduating class. Her career at Bloodworks started soon after.

Elo was hired in 1954 at what was then the King County Central Blood Bank, and went to London to train in serology and blood typing in the Medical Research Council’s Blood Transfusion Unit.

Even as her career at blood bank picked up, Elo remained a skilled medical researcher. Between 1955 and 1967, Elo advanced in rank at the UW Medical School from Clinical Associate to Clinical Professor of Medicine, and In 1967 she was named a Research Professor of Medicine at UW, a position she held for two decades, concurrent with her blood bank work.

During this time, Elo made incredible scientific breakthroughs that would make blood transfusions safer and more reliable, and dramatically improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

Elo, paving the way for many scientific breakthroughs to follow, discovered the first recognized immunodeficiency disease: ADA deficiency. Elo also figured out the root cause of another condition, purine nucleoside phosphorylase deficiency.

Her research on transplantation immunity showed bone marrow transplantation could be used to to treat leukemia, saving many lives.

Her focus on the genetic markers found on red blood cells, other blood cells, and in plasma led to her identification of several blood group antigens, as well as her book, Genetic Markers in Human Blood, met with universal praise.

Her work with genetic markers had civil rights implications as well: Dr. Giblett provided scientific evidence to refute the (then common) practice of segregating collected units of blood on the basis of the race of the donor.

A woman writes in a large book, with a man in glasses and a bow tie standing to her right.

Elo is admitted into the National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Giblett closed her lab to serve as Acting Director and then as Executive Director of the Blood Bank in 1980, the same year she was elected into the National Academy of Sciences. At the time, the Academy’s 2,000 members only included a few women.

This era proved to be one of the most challenging times for blood centers as the AIDS epidemic gripped the world in panic. Dr. Giblett defined policy on how to screen donors before HIV. was identified or research showed it could be spread by blood transfusion; the precedent she set ensured that the blood supply is safe today.

“Dr. Giblett was an incredible human being, a stellar scientist, and a visionary leader who artfully guided [Bloodworks Northwest] through one of its most trying periods,” wrote Bloodworks Northwest Research Institute’s Dr. José López for the American Society of Hematology.

Elo retired in 1987, keeping busy with medical matters and her first love, the violin, until her death in 2009 at 88.

Elo Giblett’s legacy lives on. Members of The Elo Giblett Society support the work of emerging scientists at Bloodworks Northwest enabling them to make important discoveries that may save lives all around the world. To learn more about this giving club, contact (206) 568-3614.

Meet BloodworksNW’s summer interns!

August 5, 2016 at 8:32 am

Meet our 2016 summer volunteer interns! These talented, bright students have been a great addition to BloodworksNW, and are enjoying learning about research, healthcare, fundraising, and other aspects of our organization.

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Katherine (L) and Christine (R) are volunteering on our Development team! They’re sisters (triplets, actually) who will be seniors at Bellevue High School in the fall. Along with their brother, they were born prematurely, and Christine needed a blood transfusion. They’re organizers of Music for Life: A Concert Benefiting Bloodworks Northwest, and are both excited to learn more about fundraising, communication and leadership skills, and how medical technology is used to help the community. Their BloodworksNW supervisors say that it’s such a pleasure to be working with such quick and dedicated learners!

Neha

Neha is a Regulatory Affairs student interning with our Materials Management department! She’s inspired by BloodworksNW’s lifesaving work and is excited to be part of this team. Being a Regulatory Affairs student, she also wants to learn about the regulations, clinical research, and quality system management that BloodworksNW uses in maintaining the quality of biologics, blood products, and providing excellent health care services, and is hoping to jump start her career in the healthcare industry.

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Avina is a Business student at the University of Washington! She’s helping Washington Center for Bleeding Disorders with medical records and reporting this summer. She admires Bloodworks’ commitment to serving diverse communities, and is most excited to learn more about how data is stored, analyzed, and used to summarize populations. When she’s not in school or at Bloodworks, she enjoys attending on-campus cultural events, finding new places to eat, and competing against her family in Mario Party.

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Holt is a Biostatistician Intern at Bloodworks Research Institute in the Johnsen lab! He’s a junior Physics major at Carleton College interested in pursuing a career in medicine. He’s also a volunteer at our Bellevue donor center, and is most excited about learning how to do meta-analyses at the Biostatistics Core this summer. In addition to coding statistical analyses in R, Holt has been in the lab optimizing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

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Jesse is a future executive helping our CEO’s office archive board records this summer! He’s a straight ‘A’ student and a captain of the water polo team at Bellevue high school. He also volunteers as a donor monitor and helps organize Music for Life: A Concert Benefiting Bloodworks Northwest, an annual student-run concert. His goal for the summer is to learn how decisions are made in upper management and how he can best contribute.

Eleanor-blog

Eleanor is dedicated to improving the lives and well-being in local communities! As a Business Operations Intern at Bloodworks Research Institute​, she’s building the foundation for her future career in public health: she plans on earning a master’s degree in public health so that she can combine research and service to the community. She’s excited be involved in research to promote positive health outcomes for people as well as the process of creating and implementing solutions for issues in the community.

We’ll be sorry to say goodbye when their internships end on August 26!

Learn more about our Summer Volunteer Internship Program.

Blood Collectors Week: Spotlight on Young in Lynnwood

September 12, 2015 at 9:30 am

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Young has been drawing blood longer than many donors have been alive to give it — she’s been with BloodworksNW for 24 years!

The 21,984 whole blood and 6,576 apheresis donations she’s collected in this period could have saved up to 72,000 lives.

Outside of work, Young enjoys painting, gardening (you may run into her at Wight’s Garden Center), walks with her husband, and watching football — on Blue Fridays at the donor center, you can see her representing the 12th Man with pride.

Lynnwood supervisor Adam Osborne says,

She is probably one of the kindest people you will ever encounter if you came to Lynnwood – unless you badmouth her Seahawks!

Young is proud to serve the Lynnwood community.

I have been living in Lynnwood for over 25 years so I cannot imagine myself living anyplace else. This is where I raised my kids. There are also several delicious and affordable Korean restaurants in Lynnwood so I never have to miss good Korean food.

A fun fact about Young says as much about her personality as her love of good Korean food:

I got second place for eating the most “Udon” (noodle) soup at a eating contest in Seoul, South Korea back in 1981.

BloodworksNW has been fortunate enough to have had Young for most of her career.

 BloodworksNW has a lot of great workers and the management is very supportive.  The people at the center are like a second family to me. We work as a team to help each other out during hard times.  I also enjoy socializing with donors and volunteers.

Looking forward to the next 24 years!

Want to thank Young or your favorite blood collector this week? Schedule your appointment at Schedule.BloodworksNW.org!

Blood Collectors Week: Spotlight on Melvina

September 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

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If you want to know the way to Central Seattle’s Melvina’s heart, ask her about her favorite book.

I’m a reader! I love books. All kinds of books. I like to go out and hunt at secondhand stores for books — I’ve gotten some classic books for pennies on the dollar! People say I probably have too many books.

She started at BloodworksNW four years ago as a donor scheduler, then moved to our Transfusion Service Lab, and finally out to the floor in the donor center at Central Seattle.

Before coming to BloodworksNW, Melvina was a corrections officer for King County at the Regional Justice Center for eight years.

The Donor Center is a great fit for Melvina – her favorite part of her job is interacting with donors. She says, “there are a lot of wonderful people, and everyone has a story.”

Just recently, we had a donor who came in to donate apheresis platelets for the first time in honor of his sister, who had passed away at 22 years old. And he also had some of his friends who came in as support. and they donated whole blood. It’s a tradition that he’s doing in honor of his sister.

A lot of good people come through.

Donors enjoy interacting with Melvina too, and are quick to learn that there’s a lot going on behind her calm demeanor.

I’m probably more adventurous than they realize, just because I’m such a quiet person! I’m somebody that’s willing to try things.

Central Seattle regulars will be sad to learn that Melvina is transferring to Tukwila to be closer to home — the shortened commute will give her more time to read!

Want to thank Melvina or your favorite blood collector this week? Schedule your appointment at Schedule.BloodworksNW.org!

Blood Collectors Week: Spotlight on Sherie of Mobile 6

September 11, 2015 at 12:26 pm

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Sherie has been a familiar face for blood donors in Western Washington for the past decade!

She’s worked on several mobile teams, in the Everett donor center, and even as administrative support specialist at BloodworksNW’s Central Seattle headquarters, but realized she liked engaging with the donors and the community more than working behind the scenes.

She’s been with Mobile 6 out of Everett for the last 5 years and considers the team her home away from home.

You sort of end up becoming a little family with how much time you end up spending together.  Really, you are with your team on the mobiles more than you are with your “real” family, so it’s always nice when you have an awesome team.

Sherie is beloved by donors and staff alike. Angie Hinton, Everett and Mobile 6 supervisor, raves,

Sherie steps up EVERY time we ask anything of her, and is one of my GO TO people to get things done!

Her own experience with blood donation gives her extra empathy with nervous donors:

I don’t actually do very well with giving blood, oddly enough.  I try my best to give it when I can, and just have to take necessary measures to make sure I feel okay when I stand up.  Ice packs, and Gatorade.  🙂

When she’s not working, Sherie enjoys spending time with friends on the weekends, going to/and watching Seahawks games, and taking advantage of the Pacific Northwest outdoors.

I enjoy going for hikes with my girlfriend, and also going on backpacking trips when we can.  I haven’t gotten to go paddle boarding at all this year, but learned how to do that last summer, and love it! Camping is always fun, there’s a limitless amount of places to go do that in WA.  We always try to find new, fun places to take our dog swimming, since that’s her favorite thing in the world.

She loves knowing that, every day, she and her team are making a difference and helping people:  “We all work really hard, and some days are more challenging than others, but it’s worth it, and feels good.”

Want to thank Sherie or your favorite blood collector this week? Schedule your appointment at Schedule.BloodworksNW.org!

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