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Blood and Beyond: Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce

Program: Special-Interest Sessions
Sunday, December 4, 2016: 4:30 PM-6:00 PM
Ballroom 20A (San Diego Convention Center)
Bob Löwenberg, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Blood, Erasmus University Medical Center
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
While blood has been a source of fascination to the lay public throughout history, the hematologist’s view of blood is both deep and more nuanced. As physician-scientists, the study of the production of the formed elements of the blood has been a focus of research that has fascinated generations of hematologists and has illuminated the pathophysiology of the diseases we treat. As clinical hematologists, we view the range of blood products as necessary tools of the trade: to prevent death on the battlefield, to support patients through life-saving therapies, to replace critical clotting factors for patients with hemophilia and other factor deficiencies, and as a source of stem cells for transplantation. Blood transfusions have allowed some of our greatest successes and have been the source of some of our greatest failures. In this talk, Dr. Nancy Berliner will place our view of blood into the context of the wider historical and cultural fabric of society.

Douglas Starr is the author of Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce and co-director of the graduate program in Science Journalism at Boston University. He has been a commentator on ABC’s Nightline, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and National Public Radio, as well as at venues as diverse as Harvard Medical School, Yale Medical School, and the Royal College of Physicians in London. In this talk, we will take a step back from our specializations and take the broadest possible view of blood, as a natural resource. For centuries, people have worked to understand the healing power of blood, marshal it as resource, divide it into useful components, and maintain a safe and reliable supply. In this way, blood bears a strange and striking analogy to oil. Professor Starr, who spent seven years researching the subject, will speak about the epic history of blood. In a lively talk, accompanied with historic illustrations, he will discuss the development of blood as a resource, from the first experiments with transfusions, to the creation of blood banks, to the management of blood supplies during the great wars. He will also discuss the tragedies of hepatitis and AIDS as they related to the blood and plasma supplies and how public health officials learned to address them. Finally, he will talk about current efforts to minimize the use of blood during surgery, as medical professionals strive to conserve this precious resource.

Nancy Berliner, MD

Internal Medicine/Hematology, Deputy Editor, Blood, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA

Douglas Starr, MS

Graduate Program in Science Journalism, Boston University, Boston, MA