Prof David Anstee, 1946 - 2021

Professor David (Dave) Anstee, an honorary staff member in Biochemistry for many years, died on Monday 18 October 2021. Dave had been struggling with his health for quite some time. He was originally a Science undergraduate at Bristol. 

Dave was at the forefront of research in a wide number of blood research fields throughout his 50-year career. He worked on half of the 36 known blood group systems, identifying and characterising many for the first time. His structural work in this area was done through collaboration with Prof Leo Brady in Biochemistry. In recognition of his outstanding work on blood groups Dave received numerous national and international scientific awards including the prestigious American Associated Blood Banks Karl Landsteiner Memorial Award in 2019.

Dave established the Bristol Institute for Transfusion Sciences (BITS) in 1996, with the aim of bringing together research and teaching at the International Blood Group Laboratory (IBGRL), the Bristol NHSBT Centre and the University of Bristol. In particular, during this time Dave collaborated with many researchers at Bristol University but his most prodigious collaboration was with Prof Michael Tanner in the Department of Biochemistry. Mike met Dave at a PhD student viva in Biochemistry and then the collaboration went from there until Mike retired. BITS is a major part of NHSBT research activity, contributing to all research programmes. BITS and the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Bristol, together run the taught MSc course in Transfusion and Transplantation Sciences, founded by Dave Anstee. The course, which has very recently moved to University of West of England, has trained many clinical scientists and clinicians and is highly respected both within the UK and worldwide.    

Dave’s team at NHSBT, alongside the labs of Prof Ash Toye, Prof Jan Frayne and Dr Allison Blair, worked on producing and characterising rare blood types from stem cells. Dave's lab currently holds the record for the largest amount of red blood cells grown in a lab. He also worked with Prof Jon Lane on autophagy during erythropoiesis. Dave and Jan together generated the Bristol Erythroid Line- Adult (BEL-A) immortalised cell line which is an excellent research reagent that has been requested for use around the world. This cell line is being used to create designed blood cells which can be used to improve patient diagnoses and are a step towards a sustainable source of blood for future patient care. The Bristol teams are currently also conducting a clinical study of laboratory grown red cells in healthy volunteers funded by NIHR and NHSBT. Dave was always supportive of translating research wherever possible.

Dave Anstee will be massively missed by his family, colleagues, collaborators and many friends.

If you would like to leave a memory or message about David Anstee there is a book of remembrance here.

Professor Dave Anstee
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