ASBP: History of the Blood Bank Fellowship Program
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History of the Blood Bank Fellowship

In 1958, LTC Joseph H. Akeroyd established the U.S. Army Blood Bank Fellowship program at the Walter Reed Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. The intent of the program was to provide military officers with the training and experience to become experts and leaders in the field of military blood banking in both peace and wartime. It was formally sponsored by the U.S. Army and had academic affiliations with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force through inter-Service Memorandums of Understanding.

In 1965, as COL William Crosby and MAJ Frank Camp established the Blood Research Division, the program transferred to the U.S. Army Medical Research Laboratory at Fort Knox, Ky. In 1971, with the help of Dr. (COL) William Hann, U.S. Army Reserve and professor of science at Bowling Green State University, the Blood Bank Fellowship established an affiliation with the university. Bowling Green State University accepted academic credit from the fellows for the didactic and clinical training. With additional graduate classes and the successful completion of a thesis, the university would grant a Master of Science degree and a Specialist in Applied Biology degree to the fellows who completed the program. The full degree program would take 18 months to complete—12 months for the initial Specialist in Blood Banking portion and an additional six months for the masters degree.

In 1972, the Blood Bank Fellowship was officially mandated by the Department of Defense. In an effort to consolidate resources, the program moved to The Blood Bank Center, also located at Fort Knox, in 1974. It remained at this location for another two years, until a Base Realignment and Closure Act moved the program back to Washington, D.C. and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1976.

During the late 1980s, there was a push to remove the Blood Bank Fellowship from the Army sponsorship and transfer it over to the Navy. There were two main reasons for making the move. One was the affiliation with Bowling Green State University and the other was that the current program director of the fellowship, LTC Richard Platte, did not have a Ph.D. So Platte worked with COL James Spiker to designate the program director position as one of the validated Ph.D. required positions. The first Ph.D. assigned officer to this new position was LTC Tom Hathaway (BBF Class 80-81).

Throughout the distinguished history of the Blood Bank Fellowship, there have been many senior officers who oversaw the program. Among those officers were: LTCs Akeroyd, Frank Camp, Richard Platte, Tom Hathaway, Lloyd Lippert, Patrick Supon, Michael Fitzpatrick, Mike Stanton, Stephen Beardsley, Francisco Rentas and Robert "Ken" Pell Jr.

However, it wasn’t just the senior Army Blood Program officers that led the program. Since 1976, the Blood Bank Fellowship has had a civilian program director as well. Past directors have included: Jan Sigman, LeeAnn Wantanabe, Nancy Murphy, Eve Tenali and Bill Turcan, who is currently the director of the program.

When the Walter Reed Army Medical Center closed in September 2011 as a result of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission Act of 2005, the Blood Bank Fellowship relocated once again. Its current home is at the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Graduates of the Fellowship

Whether in Kentucky, Washington D.C., or Maryland, the Blood Bank Fellowship has a proud history of training Medical Technologists from all three services to become Specialists in Blood Banking. As of early 2012, more than 215 officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force have graduated from the program. A complete listing of these graduates can be found here.