Advancing Blood Safety Worldwide

Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI) is dedicated to advancing blood safety worldwide through scientific research, education and the promotion of evidence-based policies.


    Established more than 50 years ago, BSRI, a research division of Blood Systems, has become a world-renowned institute engaged in research ranging from blood donor epidemiology to cellular therapy to virus discovery.


    BSRI has state-of-the-art equipment to support research related to blood and blood product safety in the areas of molecular biology, immunology, virology, tissue culture, cell processing and epidemiology


    BSRI supports the education and training of the next generation of researchers through fellowships, internships, mentoring and classes conducted in San Francisco and around the world.

Latest News


Busch granted the 2018 ISBT Presidential Award


The International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) has recently announced that the Foundation of Transfusion Medicine has granted the ISBT Presidential Award to Dr. Michael Busch, the Director of BSRI. This award is granted to those who have made eminent contributions to transfusion medicine through original research, the practice of transfusion therapy and significant service contributions to the field. Read more about the award and the selection process here

Protective Immune Responses for Ebola survivors 40 years later


In collaboration with UCLA, NIH and scientists within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we have recently demonstrated that survivors of the first recorded outbreak of Ebola virus maintain potent protective immune responses over 40 years after infection. The BSRI Simmons Lab performed serological analysis for evidence of Ebola infection. Multiple serological assays such as ELISA were utilized for multiple virus proteins and algorithms for determining reactivity based on more than one assay. Read more about the serological assays developed for Ebola here

Blood Donations for Disease Research


In a recent interview, Michael Busch discusses the FDA and CDC’s decision to require Zika testing for all blood donors. Those donations infected with Zika are flagged, and the nationwide testing allowed Busch and his team to pull samples and follow up with donors to try to enroll them in research studies, such as REDS-III Zika, helping to further assure the safety of the nation’s blood supply.

Using Biomarkers from HIV Patients to Find a Cure


Dr. Satish Pillai and collaborators from the Gladstone Institutes, Stanford, UCSF, and Johns Hopkins University are taking on the challenge of identifying biomarkers that could speed up the development of a cure for HIV-infected individuals.  To find biomarkers, the researchers will use banked blood and plasma samples from HIV-infected volunteers who participated in various clinical trials.

[Image posted with permission from Gladstone Institutes]

Deferral Policy for MSM Donors: Early Effects


Dr. Custer discusses the early effects of the FDA’s policy change observed within BSI blood centers from an indefinite donor deferral to a 1-year deferral for men who have sex with men (MSM).  In this preliminary analysis, while the sample size is small, as expected the early data suggest higher rates of prevalent infection in some first time MSM donors.  Longer periods of post-implementation data collection are necessary to be able to answer the most important question of whether there has been any change in the residual risk of infections in donated blood.

[Image posted with permission from AABB]


Custer Receives 2017 Hemphill-Jordan Leadership Award


Dr. Custer received the 2017 Hemphill-Jordan Leadership Award at the AABB annual meeting for his long-term contributions to blood safety research since 2003, and his significant influence in helping U.S. policy-makers revise and set blood donation regulations. Through his consistent willingness to lend expertise and mentorship to colleagues and peers around the world, Custer was a worthy recipient for the award that honors leaders in transfusion medicine and cellular therapy.

[Image posted with permission from AABB]

Hologic’s Panther System at BSRI for HIV Research


Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI) today announced a collaboration to more precisely and efficiently measure the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) latent reservoir in clinical samples using the Panther system from Hologic, Inc. – a fully automated molecular diagnostics platform that provides test consolidation, random-access sample loading, and proven assay chemistry.

ABC Newsletter on TACO Studies


Edward Murphy, MD, MPH, and Nareg Roubinian, MD, MPHTM, have been leading the Severe Transfusion Reactions including Pulmonary Edema (STRIPE), as part of REDS-III. STRIPE, a case-control study, examines both transfusion and clinical data to better characterize risk factors and outcomes for Transfusion-Associated Circulatory Overload (TACO).   In addition, the STRIPE study includes biospecimen collection to allow study of cytokines and other biomarkers in the diagnosis and pathogenesis of TACO.

Abstinence, HIV And Blood Donation


Dr. Brian Custer discusses why the one-year ban on sexually active gay men donating blood still exists.

Sugar-binding Protein Galectin-9 Found to Be a New Weapon to Cure HIV


The ultimate impediment to a cure for HIV infection is the presence of latent, HIV-infected cells, which can reawaken and produce new virus when antiretroviral drug therapy is stopped.



The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for new scientific research as it reevaluates a controversial policy banning men from donating blood if they admit to having had sex with another man in the past year. 

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