Sanquin Research Shapes Tomorrow's Blood Bank

The first documented blood transfusion took place on June 15, 1667, and did not end well. The donor blood came from a lamb and the patient did not survive the transfusion. Through later research, we now find that understandable, but it required improving our knowledge of blood and blood cells. Now, almost 400 years later, fortunately, blood transfusions have become very much safer and more effective. No progress without knowledge!

It is with reason that Sanquin has a leading research institute, Sanquin Research. This institute conducts research into all kinds of blood-related topics with the goal of being able to improve, replace or reduce the use of existing products made from donor blood. In this way, we ensure that the blood bank as we know it today is ready for the future.

Blood bank of the future

Within Sanquin Research, 25 research groups are working on this ‘blood bank of the future’. Our research is concentrated in four strategic spearheads, the 'Medical Priorities'. These are: Anemia, Bleeding and Hemostasis, Immunity and Inflammation, and Immune Therapy.

Among other things, the researchers on Anemia seek to understand and predict donor behavior in order to promote their health. Research also takes place to optimize the safety and effectiveness of blood transfusions, to generate new blood transfusion products, and to discover alternative methods to combat anemia.


Within the Bleeding and Hemostasis spearhead, researchers seek to identify ways to diagnose and prevent bleeding and impaired clotting early in patients. New treatment methods are being developed that can cure congenital or acquired bleeding and clotting diseases.

Researchers in the Immunity and Inflammation spearhead are conducting research to develop new diagnostic tools and therapies to prevent unwanted immune reactions in patients to whom blood products have been administered.

Finally, researchers within the Immune Therapy theme are working on new ways to develop immune cells and antibodies and use them to treat diseases, especially cancer.

Ready for the 21st century

We don't do this research alone at Sanquin Research. Our researchers work together with universities, hospitals and companies in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. This is how we bring knowledge and expertise together, in the interest of the donor and the patient, ready for the 21st century.