Science alumna recognised for ground-breaking blood research
Dr Lacey Johnson
UTS: Alumni Award for Excellence – Faculty of Science 2015
Dr Lacey Johnson’s internationally recognised work on cryopreserved platelets is putting Australia at the forefront of research into frozen blood technologies.
As a principal research scientist at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Dr Johnson investigates innovative ways to manufacture or store blood components, particularly platelets, which are crucial to ensuring blood can clot after an injury. Stored at room temperature, platelets have a shelf-life of just five days.
“This presents particular challenges for supply to rural and remote areas, including military environments,” she says.
Her applied research into cryopreservation over the last five years has allowed the shelf-life of platelets to be extended from five days to two years, saving lives that may have been lost without access to this critical resource.
Dr Johnson and her research team work closely with the organisation’s manufacturing pision to translate her research into practice. Her groundbreaking work is being embraced by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), who are trialling a frozen blood inventory on combat frontlines in the hope of significantly improving resuscitation procedures. Pending regulatory body approval, there are plans to supply the ADF with frozen components by the end of this year, enabling them to offer the best possible care to wounded soldiers under challenging conditions.
She is also applying her expertise in the civilian setting, as an investigator on Australia’s first clinical trial comparing the use of frozen platelets with fresh liquid-stored platelets to treat bleeding in cardiac surgery patients.
“My goal as a research scientist is to contribute to society in a positive way. That is why I love the applied research area, as you really get to see your work translated into the real world.”
Dr Johnson is also working to inspire the next generation of scientists and clinicians through teaching, supervising research students, and providing career mentoring and advice.
In October 2015, Johnson’s achievements were recognised with the Faculty of Science’s Alumni Award for Excellence at the 2015 UTS: Alumni Awards.