Cellero’s scientists bring a wealth of immunology research expertise from diverse backgrounds. With extensive experience in a variety of biologics disciplines, our team is an ideal resource for a wide range of outsource research services. From donor collection to flow cytometric analyses, Cellero helps you reach your milestones.
In this Researcher Spotlight, we introduce you to Cellero’s Apheresis Site Manager, Eileen Karr.
Title: Apheresis Site Manager
With Cellero Since: 2019
Alma Mater: BSN, University of Connecticut
Years of Experience: 35+ years
Eileen, what is your primary role as an Apheresis Site Manager?
My primary role is coordinating the collection and laboratory activities at our Lowell, MA site. This includes employee schedule decisions, donor recruitment and scheduling, and overseeing collections and laboratory studies. I am also responsible for employee training, quality procedures, and time and attendance.
What interesting research projects have you been working on recently?
Collecting customer-specific products and perfecting donor selection and product collections.
What are you most passionate about in your role?
Discussing and educating others about apheresis. I have been a member of the American Society for Apheresis for many years, served as president in 2015–2016, and continue to participate in many committees. As a result of my involvement, I have made apheresis friends around the country, whom I can rely on to discuss apheresis research and issues.
Do you have a favorite piece of equipment in the lab or a great tip?
I love both the Terumo BCT Optia and Trima. These two machines replaced the old COBE Spectra which was an apheresis workhorse. The Optia and Trima are more automated with many safeguards for the donor built in and collect a higher quality blood component/cellular product.
What led you to become a scientist?
Well, I am not a scientist in the traditional sense. I am a bachelor’s degree trained registered nurse and started working in apheresis after a few years working in dialysis. Apheresis departments in hospitals are often administered by the Laboratory Medicine departments, so when I started working as an apheresis nurse, I entered the world of Laboratory Medicine. There I learned about frequent inspections from numerous regulatory agencies and operating in a strict quality environment. I enjoyed taking care of the patients along with operating complex instruments, so apheresis was a next logical career choice for me. It was the best decision since I love every aspect of apheresis medicine as well as caring for donors and seriously ill patients.
Prior to my employment as an apheresis nurse, I was unaware of all of the different uses of apheresis. I continue to learn and grow every day as the field expands. The latest indication for apheresis therapy is the collection of convalescent plasma for the use in treatment of COVID-19 patients. Our role is to collect cellular products that can be used to potentially develop treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.
Any tips for young people interested in a career in biosciences?
I think it is vital for nursing students to have some exposure with apheresis departments within their clinical rotations. I enjoy mentoring and exposing students of all healthcare specialties. I have been intricately involved in resident physician and student nurse training.
What advances in research or techniques do you foresee in 2021–2022?
Research will continue to expand and develop new and innovative therapies for many illnesses that were never seen as possibly curable or treatable (orphan diseases). Research will continue to provide hope to many more people with chronic or acute illnesses.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not in the lab?
Spending time with family, biking, and boating!
To learn more about Eileen, connect with her on LinkedIn.