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April 2005 Issue

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Greenwalt Honored for Pioneering Transfusion Research

Published April 2005

Tibor (Tibi) Greenwalt, MD, who headed UC's Hoxworth Blood Center from 1979 to 1987, has received the Karl Landsteiner Memorial Award from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) for achievement in blood and transfusion sciences.

Dr. Greenwalt, who is 91, is emeritus director of research at Hoxworth. He goes to his office each day and continues to write papers and explore new developments in red cell research.

Born in Hungary, Dr. Greenwalt came to the United States in 1920.

He earned his undergraduate degree and MD from New York University, studied hematology at the New England Medical Center under William Dameshek, and continued his interest in blood disease while serving in the U.S. Army in India during World War II.

After the war, he became the medical director of what is now the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin. A specialist in Rh factors and hemolytic disease of the newborn, Dr. Greenwalt is credited with determining that red cells work better than whole blood for exchange transfusions. He developed an interest in blood groups, which led to collaboration with leading researchers, including Robert Race and Ruth Sanger, at London's Lister Institute.

Dr. Greenwalt served as vice president of the AABB, of which he was a founding member, and national director of the American Red Cross Blood Program. He is credited with establishing the "rare donor" registry for both organizations. In his laboratories at the American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., he directed research into hepatitis and the storage of red blood cells and developed the first filter for white blood cells. His work on the long-term storage of red cells while at Hoxworth has resulted in new storage solutions.

Founding editor of the journal Transfusion, Dr. Greenwalt has contributed to over 200 major books and research papers. In 1984 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his work in his field.

Dr. Greenwalt's late wife, Pia Glas-Greenwalt, PhD, was also a nationally known UC scientist. She earned recognition for her research on ancrod, a blood thinner derived from snake venom.

Karl Landsteiner, MD, after whom the award was named, was the first to document differences in blood types, and which types can be safely used for transfusion. He received the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of blood groups in 1901 and for his continuing work on the interaction of different groups.

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