Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry
makes history by hosting first European Federation of Immunogenetics meeting in Armenia
The prestigious conference is dedicated to training and education in the fields of immunogenetics and bone marrow/stem cell transplantation
Los Angeles, November 29, 2011 – The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) reached a new milestone this month when it hosted the first-ever European Federation of Immunogenetics (EFI) Training and Educational Meeting to be held in Armenia.
The high-profile symposium took place in Yerevan during November 18-19 at the Ani Plaza Hotel. Featuring world-renowned speakers from Europe and elsewhere, it brought together close to 150 doctors and experts in the fields of immunogenetics and bone marrow transplantation. The meeting was attended by participants representing more than 15 countries from Europe, the region, and the CIS including Armenia, Iran, Georgia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, and others.
With sessions dedicated to recent advances in HLA (human leukocyte antigen) immunogenetics, stem cell and organ transplantation, and HLA-disease associations, the conference functioned as a global forum for sharing scientific expertise and expanding the knowledge base of participants. As importantly, the event fostered international medical cooperation and helped pave the way for the advancement of immunogenetics in various countries. The conference was organized by ABMDR, under the auspices and major sponsorship of EFI. Other top sponsors of the event included Fruitfull Armenia, Dr. Arpenik Avagyan, and Dr. Evgeni Sokurenko.
The selection of Armenia as the host country of the EFI meeting was made in January of this year. As announced by the EFI leadership, the main factors in selecting Armenia were the scope and quality of ABMDR’s work. Specifically, the federation cited ABMDR’s HLA tissue typing laboratory in Yerevan as the only, and EFI-accredited, facility of its kind in the entire region.
At the opening ceremony of the conference, welcome remarks were delivered by Dr. Ara Babloyan, chairman of the Armenian National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs, Healthcare, and Environmental Protection; Dr. Sergey Khachatryan, deputy minister of health; Dr. Ilias Doxiadis, president of EFI; Dr. Bella Kocharyan, honorary chair of ABMDR; Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of ABMDR; and Dr. Sevak Avagyan, executive director of ABMDR.
As Dr. Avagyan spoke of ABMDR’s accomplishments and goals, he stated: “Our tissue typing operation has had the challenge of responding to a tremendous influx in prospective bone marrow stem cell donors due to the great success of our efforts, both in the U.S. and throughout the diaspora. Last year, which marked our registry’s tenth anniversary, recruitment teams registered an astounding 5,000 donors within a short span. This is, of course, a good challenge to have, as we currently have over 1,500 patient families seeking a donor match from our registry.”
Dr. Avagyan’s aim of reaching out to larger numbers of patients struck by life-threatening blood-related diseases was echoed by Dr. Bella Kocharyan. “We view the EFI meeting in Yerevan as a stepping stone toward the establishment of a bone marrow transplantation center in Armenia,” she said.
As Dr. Frieda Jordan addressed conference participants, she underscored the significance of the EFI meeting in Armenia. “Six years ago,” she said, “we welcomed our first EFI colleagues to Yerevan, when they came to inspect our laboratory operations. A few months after their visit, we learned that ABMDR was granted EFI accreditation — ours was the first laboratory of its kind in the CIS to receive it. Now we experience another first for the registry, and for Armenia: hosting an international scientific symposium of this caliber is an honor, and — we hope — an opportunity to continue to ‘surprise’ our colleagues with the quality of our work and the progress we have made.”
“We owe much of our success to plain hard work and the dedication of the ABMDR staff and volunteers,” Dr. Jordan continued. “But we also owe it to colleagues such as yourselves who, for many years before us, have created the models for success and set the standards for our work. And now, perhaps, we are in a position to ‘give back’ to our colleagues. ABMDR has not only built a foundation for its own success, but can also be a source of information for other registries getting started. Each of our registries is a beacon of hope for all who suffer from life-threatening blood-related diseases. At this EFI meeting, we are gathered to share our knowledge with each other as we all work toward giving the greatest gift imaginable: life itself.”
Speaking on behalf of EFI, Dr. Ilias Doxiadis had high praise for ABMDR as he addressed the attendees. Citing ABMDR’s global efforts in the past several months to launch the EFI meeting in Yerevan, Dr. Doxiadis applauded the registry’s success in helping provide an international platform where foremost immunogenetics specialists could share their expertise with colleagues from a diversity of countries. Dr. Doxiadis expressed hope that the meeting would lead to new avenues of cooperation between current EFI members such as ABMDR and other conference participants.
Following the conclusion of the meeting, EFI Region 8 chair Dr. Chryssa Papasteriades congratulated ABMDR for hosting the unprecedented event. “This has been a fantastic symposium,” she said. “The top-notch scientific program, the excellent coordination, the memorable social events that complemented the various sessions, and, above all, the wonderful diversity of participants as well as the friendly, infinitely supportive atmosphere resulted in an extraordinary success.”
About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date, the registry has recruited over 21,554 donors in 13 countries across three continents, identified 2,135 patients, found 1,753 potential matches, and facilitated 13 bone marrow transplants.
For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.
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A scene from the conference. Speakers included, from left, Prof. Ilias Doxiadis, president of EFI; Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of ABMDR; Dr. Ann-Margaret Little, director of the Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Glasgow; Dr. Chryssa Papasteriades, EFI Region 8 commissioner; Dr. Carlheinz Mueller, vice-president of the World Marrow Donor Association Europe/Africa; Prof. Ardeshir Gavamzadeh, head of Tehran University Medical School Hematology-Oncology and BMT Research Center; Prof. Gottfried Fischer, Medical University of Vienna; and Dr. Gurvinder Kaur, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
2) [Dr. Jordan addressing conference.jpg]
Dr. Frieda Jordan addressing the conference.
3) [Avagyan, Jordan, Kocharyan.jpg]
From left: ABMDR executive director Dr. Sevak Avagyan, ABMDR president Dr. Frieda Jordan; and ABMDR honorary chair Dr. Bella Kocharyan.
4) [Conference participants with EFI Board members.jpg]
Conference participants with EFI Board members and ABMDR staff.
All photos courtesy of ABMDR.