Published by Kirby Winn on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Blog
Dr. Louis Katz, Chief Medical Officer for ImpactLife, was honored by colleagues from blood centers across the U.S. and Canada earlier this week when he delivered the Celso Bianco Memorial Lecture at the America’s Blood Centers 60th Annual Meeting, now underway in Washington D.C.
The Celso Bianco Memorial Lectureship was created to honor more than 40 years of contributions in transfusion research, as well as blood and donor safety that Dr. Bianco provided for donors, patients, and blood center staff. Each year, America’s Blood Centers selects a member who emulates the same characteristics and contributions of Dr. Bianco.
A graduate of Davenport Central High School, Dr. Katz earned his medical degree from the University of Iowa and had begun his career as an infectious disease specialist when in 1983 he scheduled a meeting with Dick Novota, founder of Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (renamed as ImpactLife in 2021). After discussing a patient’s reaction to a recent blood transfusion, the conversation moved to emerging concern within the blood industry over what would become known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV.
Dr. Katz had experience treating patients with HIV and was working at that time to establish HIV/AIDS care resources for patients in the Quad Cities region. As a result of that first conversation, Dr. Katz was hired as an assistant medical director to advise the blood center on emerging issues related to donor eligibility, blood testing, and transfusion safety in connection with HIV.
It was a chance opportunity that put Dr. Katz on a path to becoming an influential leader on a national scale. “I stumbled into blood banking from the outside,” Dr. Katz says, advising those would follow to keep an open mind about new opportunities. “People need to be open to stepping beyond their day-to-day experience and recognize fun opportunities when they pop up.”
As his work in the blood industry continued, Dr. Katz was introduced to Dr. Bianco, who became a mentor to Dr. Katz in transfusion medicine, blood, and donor safety. Dr. Bianco invited Dr. Katz to serve on the Council of Community Blood Centers Scientific, Medical and Technical Committee. This exposure to colleagues at a national level grew into service on blood community advisory and working committees, allowing Dr. Katz to bring clinical and scientific points of view to important policy discussions.
During his career, Dr. Katz has served as Chief Medical Officer at America’s Blood Centers in Washington, DC, an ABC past president, board member, and a past chair of its Scientific, Medical and Technical committee. He has served on Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, and he has written scores of peer reviewed publications, book chapters, and presentations throughout his career.
In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice until 2012, Dr. Katz serves as medical director of the Scott County Health Department and has actively worked with local and national leaders on public health policy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Katz has continued the work he began with HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s and continues to serve as Medical Director for The Project of the Quad Cities, an organization that provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections services in the Quad Cities region. The organization has named the award it presents at its annual Red Ribbon Dinner in his honor.
Reflecting on his career, Dr. Katz says he is most proud of the work he did with Sandee Millage to establish The Project of the Quad Cities and that what they created continues to provide HIV/AIDS services to this day. Additionally, he has been proud to see professionals that he has mentored in the areas of infectious disease, hospital epidemiology, and public health become recognized for their contributions to their respective fields.