Heidi Elmoazzen, cryrobiologist and Harvard Medical School instructor, joins organization
Introducing our OneMatch Public Cord Blood Bank Director
Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, a cryrobiologist and Harvard Medical School instructor, joined Canadian Blood Services in October 2011 as Director of the national OneMatch Public Cord Blood Bank. In her new role, Heidi is leading the development and implementation of Canada's national public umbilical cord bank.
The approval of the $48-million funding for the OneMatch Public Cord Blood Bank was announced in March 2011. The cord bank will be set up in Ottawa over the next two years and officially open in April 2013. It will then roll out to Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton with the goal of collecting 20,000 cord blood units within eight years. Canadian Blood Services has agreed to raise $12.5 million in the first three years to help cover the cost of the project, which is funded by the provinces and territories.
“The reputation Heidi has earned in the medical and scientific community places her in an ideal position to manage relationships with the cord blood bank's many stakeholders,” says Sue Smith, Executive Director of the stem cell line of business. “We are delighted to have someone of Heidi's calibre leading this initiative and further positioning us as a leader and trusted partner in health care.”
Heidi, a native of Edmonton, is an expert in cryobiology (the preservation of cells and tissues), and has been an instructor at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and Shriner's Burn Hospital for Children in Boston.
Part of what makes her unique as a professional is the fact that she combines extensive research experience in both academic and hospital environments with a good deal of training in “translational” medicine.
“Translational medicine involves taking concepts from bench to bedside,” Heidi says. “It really boils down to finding practical clinical applications from non-clinical research and theory.”
Heidi is also a past member of the board of directors for Cryogroup, Inc., a company involved in bio-banking solutions. Through this role, she gained a good understanding of what needs to be considered from a business perspective for our cord blood bank.
She is also a strong advocate for women’s fertility and was a member of the board of directors of Fertility within Reach, an organization that serves as an educational resource for patients who have fertility issues.
Heidi’s interest in developing innovative techniques in the area of fertility preservation led her to help develop a novel tool for freezing women’s eggs. The issue of fertility preservation is of growing importance, particularly for cancer patients where their reproductive function may be compromised by chemotherapy.
She is well respected in the medical and scientific community and has the credentials required to excel in her position, but she says it’s not just she who can make the public cord blood bank come to life.
“No one person can do it alone,” Heidi explains. “Having a great team of people with passion, dedication and the necessary skills will lead to success.”
Despite having a strong work ethic and many work-related accomplishments, Heidi is a big believer in striking the right balance between work and life. In Boston, she was an instructor for Zumba, one of the largest dance-fitness programs in the world. She hopes to get involved with it again in Ottawa.