13 October 2021

Behind the Microscope: On-Demand Blood Team

Armando Estrada, PhD and Orion Furmanski, PhD are research scientists working on the On-Demand Blood (ODB) program at the Uniformed Services University’s Center for Biotechnology (USU-4D Bio3) in Rockville, Maryland.  The ODB program, derived from USU-4D Bio3 and administered by Geneva, was established to manufacture blood products (and ultimately, whole blood) for the warfighter to access fresh blood supplies anywhere in the world.

Watch a “behind the scenes” video about the ODB program

Dr. Furmanski working in the ODB lab
Dr. Furmanski working in the ODB lab

Dr. Furmanski joined the program in July 2020 and is responsible for growing manufactured red blood cells (mRBCs), optimizing ODB assays to characterize mRBCs, and interfacing with ODB domestic and overseas partner teams.

Dr. Estrada recently joined the program in May 2021 and assists with the proteomic component of the project that consists of various experiments that monitor hemoglobin-subunit-protein levels at various stages of red blood cell (RBC) development. Dr. Estrada is also responsible for monitoring RBC metabolism in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) derived RBCs as well as determining oxygen desaturation to ensure HSC derived RBCs behave similarly to donated blood.

Dr. Furmanski and Dr. Estrada, along with previous colleagues, are in the process of developing an alternative and superior procedure to test blood oxygenation and revolutionize the process with an accurate and high-throughput validation method.

They frequently use a HEMOX-Analyzer unit to measure the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells. This system provides data regarding key attributes of red blood cells necessary to develop alternative transfusable blood products.

The work of these Geneva research scientists to support the ODB program addresses blood shortage challenges that the Department of Defense and the Nation are facing today and offers alternatives to current blood sources and products.

To learn more about on-demand blood, please contact the USU-4D Bio3 team.