Blood as a Building Block for Success in Wisconsin – Speaker Series Recap

By Kate Rodgers | March 14, 2017

As BioForward kicks off our Strength of Wisconsin initiative, we’re looking ahead to showcase the strength we have as an industry, right here in Wisconsin.

BioForward and BloodCenter of Wisconsin teamed up to host a speaker series event last Thursday at the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy that showcased BloodCenter of Wisconsin as a valuable resource for R&D in the state, and much more.

Erik Burns of the UW School of Pharmacy Professional Development Division welcomed attendees with a light-hearted introduction and an overview of the opportunities for growth the program offers to those in the pharmaceutical industry.

Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward, introduced BioForward’s 2017 initiatives, advocacy updates, and a look ahead to the new forum series, featuring half-day events highlighting different sectors of Wisconsin’s biohealth industry.

The main event started with a powerful video from BloodCenter of Wisconsin, featuring a local Milwaukee family telling the story of how the BloodCenter saved their daughter Tia’s life, after being diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.

Ilke Panzer, Chief Innovation Officer at Versiti, reminded attendees that it is stories like this that drive our industry to do our best work and impact lives. After an overview, Panzer informed the audience that while the BloodCenter does ‘all things blood’, they’re much more than just a blood bank. Highlights from the presentation included:

All Things Blood (And More)

Panzer introduced the extensive range of services BloodCenter of Wisconsin offers in addition to their commonly known blood bank including lab services, blood products, medical services, and clinical research support. The BloodCenter takes a multi-disciplinary approach to these services, acting as an extension of an organization’s team to create unique research solutions to their problems.

Adapting to Changes in Health Care

When hospitals underwent changes after the Affordable Care Act was passed, increasing in size and patients served, the BloodCenter was also presented with challenges to match. As an organization, BloodCenter realized they needed to expand in a way to serve more patients effectively and as a result formed Versiti, a coalition of blood centers throughout the Midwest. With each location serving as an expert in blood-related services, BloodCenter of Wisconsin acts as the hub for blood samples and anemia research.

Stronger Together

In addition to the Versiti Network, BloodCenter of Wisconsin has continued to join forces with other blood centers.  BloodCenter of Wisconsin has teamed up with San Diego Blood Bank to form Celluvative, a new partnership that offers a portfolio of products and services meant to cater to those working in the field of cellular medicine.  These leaders have combined their expertise in cord blood banking and diagnostic lab testing to bring unique offerings to biopharma, diagnostics, medical device, and blood/cell researchers.  Celluvative looks to be a powerful resource for products, testing, and clinical trial support related to cellular therapy.

Collaboration as the Key to Success

As precision medicine grew, BloodCenter Wisconsin saw an opportunity to apply these concepts to blood samples to increase matching specificity but ran into the issue many organizations do: cost. With this in mind, they turned to collaboration as an answer. As a result, they formed a unique partnership with an agricultural technology start-up who could apply their technology to sequence the large amount of samples the BloodCenter needed. It is this type of collaboration organizations in Wisconsin can leverage to enhance their value in the industry.

After an excellent presentation, a post-event networking reception allowed a variety of biohealth professionals and researchers to enjoy the evening and new perspectives on collaborations in Wisconsin.

For more information on BioForward’s upcoming events, visit our events page or sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay in the loop on the latest Wisconsin biohealth news, events, and legislative updates!