Leadership Can Be Lifesaving in the Fight Against COVID-19

Contributors: Jay Mohr, WG’91 and Bruce Sachias, MD PhD
To learn more about Jay and Bruce, click here.


Jay Mohr, WG’91, is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe), one of the world's largest independent, community-based, non-profit blood centers. With operating divisions across the country, NYBCe serves some 75 million people in New York, New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Southern New England, meeting the urgent blood product and service needs of over 500 hospitals nationwide.

Decisive and innovative leadership is crucial to saving lives in the global fight against COVID-19. Non-profits are uniquely positioned to take the lead in times of crisis and uncertainty, and since the onset of the pandemic, NYBCe has been working around the clock to ensure lifesaving resources reach critically ill COVID-19 patients. Strategic leadership and vision are essential in delivering essential services to physicians, laboratories, administrative, and biotech sectors through the NYBCe Office of Ventures and Technology Development, a hub for prospective industry partners and researchers to access and submit novel ideas and technologies. The Office serves as the gateway to technology licenses, sponsored research, collaborations, and venture creations, collaborating to bring vital therapies and diagnostics to patients in a wide range of therapeutic areas, including COVID-19, infectious diseases, non-malignant hematology, cellular therapies, and transfusion medicine.

A serious consequence of COVID-19 has been a drastic decrease in blood donations, leaving the national blood supply at a dangerously low level, with thousands of blood drives canceled due to pandemic lockdowns. NYBCe is working in partnership with hospitals throughout the country dealing with the full force of the pandemic, expanding laboratory capacity and significantly increasing blood donor recruitment efforts. Mohr is passionate about turning the unprecedented challenges resulting from COVID-19 into new opportunities to improve efficiency and lead scientific discovery. The global public health, economic, and social disruptions caused by the pandemic are devastating.

NYBCe was the first blood center in the nation to provide COVID-19 convalescent plasma (plasma rich in disease-fighting antibodies that are removed from a person who has recovered from COVID-19) that is then transfused into a patient suffering from the disease. The organization has collected over 76,000 plasma units and distributed some 62,000 units to hospitals nationwide as a treatment for COVID-19 patients. NYBCe also participates in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed Program to encourage hospitals to educate recovered COVID-19 patients about the benefits of donating plasma. High titer convalescent plasma remains one of the few therapeutic options available to hospitalized COVID-19 patients via emergency use authorization, particularly when used early in the course of the disease, according to NYBCe Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Bruce Sachias, “The therapy has demonstrated a survival benefit for hospitalized patients not yet requiring mechanical ventilation.”

As the research arm of NYBCe, Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) has pioneered new therapies in transfusion medicine, cellular therapy, hematology, and infectious disease that have resulted in numerous landmark patents and licenses. LFKRI is also a world leader in viral immunology, creating therapies and development vaccines to address global health issues like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and now SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the global pandemic. LFKRI researchers are currently partnering with some of the highest caliber scientists in the world to conduct pre-clinical phase trials for multiple COVID-19 vaccines, to spearhead a COVID-19 serology (antibody) study of testing platforms currently being utilized in the field, and to screen plasma for novel biomarkers to predict COVID-19 responses in patients.

LFKRI’s groundbreaking research has been saving lives for over five decades, and the Institute’s cutting-edge advancements are key to developing the most effective treatments and preventing future pandemics.  The Institute created the COVID-19 Research Repository to archive blood components, including plasma, serum, and immune cells, from COVID-19 patients to preserve these valuable materials for future research, with the long-term goal to further collaboration between LFKRI innovators and the scientific community and accelerate our knowledge and understanding of coronavirus. The Repository already holds an impressive repertoire of convalescent donor plasma samples and serves as a storehouse of serology and symptomatology data for convalescent plasma donors.

Mohr is encouraged and inspired by the relentless drive and determination of the frontline healthcare professionals, researchers, blood donors and collections staff, and community, corporate, and industry leaders who are joining forces to win this fight. “It’s truly gratifying to work with such talented and dedicated change-makers who continue to rise to the occasion and go the extra mile to keep our communities safe,” he said. “One of the greatest contributions leaders can make at this pivotal time in the pandemic is to use our voices, actions, and influence to help save lives. We’re working hard to assess needs, coordinate efforts, and discover new approaches to providing the safety-net products and services that will flatten the curve and help those in greatest need.”

Contact Jay at: [email protected]

Contact Bruce at: [email protected]

Join the Fight Against COVID-19
NYBCe is working 24/7 to meet hospital demand for convalescent plasma and other blood products needed for the many health conditions and procedures that rely on an ample and readily available blood supply. You have the power to save lives. Donate blood or volunteer at the nearest donor center. Donate plasma if you are a recovered COVID-19 patient. Make a financial gift to support COVID-19 vaccine research. Visit nybc.org/covidplasma to learn more about how you can help.