Due to ABMDR efforts, Armenia is chosen as first country in Caucasus to host meeting of European Federation for Immunogenetics later this year
LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry reached two significant milestones recently. On January 22, the organization participated in a meeting of the European Federation for Immunogenetics. The second success came when, at the conclusion of the event, Armenia was chosen as the first country in the Caucasus to host an EFI meeting, in November of this year.
The EFI provides technical support to immunogenetics laboratories across the world, sets operational standards and methodologies, and awards accreditation. A full member of the EFI, the ABMDR is accredited by the federation for its HLA tissue typing laboratory in Yerevan.
At the January 22 meeting, held in Athens, Greece, the ABMDR was represented by Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of the registry’s Board of Directors, and Dr. Sevak Avagyan, executive director of the registry. The event was devoted to Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratories in the EFI’s Region 8, which includes the Balkans. The meeting was attended by over 200 participants from 14 countries, comprising Albania, Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey.
Dr. Jordan addressed the meeting with a presentation titled “Organizing a Bone Marrow Donor Registry in a Small Country.” Her lecture, which detailed the work and goals of the ABMDR, received high praise from attendees. Organizers and participants alike congratulated the ABMDR for its many achievements since its launch in 1999, specifically commending the registry’s global networking, grassroots recruitment drives, and groundbreaking accomplishments through its Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan.
The Stem Cell Harvesting Center reached a watershed in June 2010, when, for the first time in the history of Armenia, it performed a stem cell harvesting procedure. Thanks to the procedure, a bone marrow transplant was later performed in Belgium, saving the life of a patient who suffered from a potentially terminal blood-related disease.
At the conclusion of the EFI meeting in Athens, organizers discussed venue and date options for the next Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratories meeting. Several countries, including Armenia, had presented their candidacy for hosting the meeting. After careful consideration, Armenia emerged as the clear favorite. As it announced its decision, the EFI committee cited the scope and quality of the ABMDR’s work as the main factor in its selection of Armenia. Furthermore, the committee entrusted the ABMDR to organize the meeting, under the auspices of the EFI. The meeting is slated to be held in Yerevan in November 2011.
“In addition to the ABMDR’s participation at the EFI meeting in Athens, the selection of Armenia as the host of the next Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratories meeting is a major achievement for our registry,” Dr. Jordan said. “For the first time in history, Armenia will be hosting such a high-profile, international scientific symposium. The meeting will also be the first of its kind in the region. I think it’s likewise important to note that Armenia is the only country in the region to have a laboratory, namely the one at the ABMDR Stem Cell Harvesting Center, which is accredited by the EFI.”
Dr. Jordan added that the Yerevan meeting will be a great boon to global cooperation in the immunogenetics field. For many years, she explained, the ABMDR has been building collaborative relationships between the scientific communities of Armenia and its neighbors. Such broad cooperation will further encourage scientists from Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran to participate in the EFI meeting in Yerevan, effectively enabling Armenia to function as a science bridge between these countries and Europe, she said.
About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, the 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 20,000 donors in 13 countries across three continents, identified 1,696 patients, found 1,419 potential matches, and facilitated 12 bone marrow transplants.