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Red Cross Holland Lab Marks 25 Years of Improving U.S. Blood Safety

The American Red Cross is proud to recognize the 25th anniversary of its Jerome H. Holland Laboratory and its contributions to the body of research that have helped improve the safety of the nation’s blood supply.

Research conducted at the laboratories in the Rockville, Md. area has led to several achievements, including:

  • Helping in the evaluation of testing and blood screening procedures for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
  • Spearheading research efforts which led to understanding the best testing approaches for preventing transfusion-transmission of West Nile Virus.
  • Collaborating with Red Cross blood regions to increase the safety of both blood donors and recipients.

This body of research has led to changes in the blood donation process, resulting in fewer complications for both people who give blood and patients receiving it. Lab scientists continue to study new and emerging pathogens affecting the blood supply.

“Scientists and doctors at Holland Lab work continuously to help ensure patients in this country have access to the safest, most reliable blood supply possible,” said Roger Dodd, PhD, vice president, research and development for the Red Cross. “This is a great time to pause and reflect on all of the wonderful research done at the Holland Lab and throughout the Red Cross.”

Red Cross research led to modified height and weight restrictions for young donors, which helped reduce adverse reactions among donors younger than 19. Red Cross participated in studies that revealed how plasma from female donors might carry antibodies which could cause transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). This led to providing male-dominant plasma for transfusions, reducing the occurrence of TRALI.

Red Cross scientists developed a technique for freezing red blood cells in 1971, which helps ensure a steady supply of red blood cells for patients with rare blood types and is still in use today.

In 1977, Holland Lab researchers participated in the development of a method of bar coding blood products in collaboration with the American Association of Blood Banks and the Council of Community Blood Centers, improving the tracking of blood products and confirmation of blood types.

The Red Cross established its national biomedical research program in 1961 and expanded it in 1987, with the creation of the Holland Laboratory. The legacy of Red Cross efforts to continuously improve blood collection processes and strengthen blood safety continues at the lab named for former Red Cross board chairman Jerome H. Holland even today.