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CEO Talk: Upstate’s McCabe discusses upcoming cord-blood bank at the Community campus in Onondaga

Dr. John McCabe is the CEO of Upstate University Hospital. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN File Photo)

ONONDAGA — Upstate Medical University is in the final phase of construction on the $15 million Upstate Cord Blood Bank at the Community campus of Upstate University Hospital. 

That’s according to a page with details on the project on Upstate Medical’s website. The page was last modified on Oct. 25.

“The cord-blood bank is the building that’s being built right behind the hospital,” says Dr. John McCabe, CEO of Upstate University Hospital. McCabe spoke with HealthCare Provider this summer about the five years that had passed since Upstate’s acquisition of Community General Hospital.


The two-story building contains 20,000 square feet of laboratory and storage space and is located on Upstate’s Community campus at 4910 Broad Road in the town of Onondaga.

Upstate Medical University is working to open the facility next spring, according to Darryl Geddes, director of public and media relations at Upstate Medical, who spoke with HealthCare Provider on Nov. 23.

When women give birth, the umbilical cord has primordial blood cells within the placenta, says McCabe. 

“We can have someone in the delivery suite … harvest and gather those cells and then we can process them in this facility and store them,” he added.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank will test, process, cryopreserve, store and distribute cord blood donated by mothers throughout Central and Northern New York, according to the web page.

Funding for the project is made possible by a $15 million grant that New York State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R–Syracuse) secured, Upstate Medical said. It’ll be one of only two public cord-blood banks in New York.

Storing blood cells
McCabe outlined three reasons for storing blood cells from an umbilical cord.

Those blood cells could help treat an individual or a family that develops a disease, he noted.

“That’s what we call [a] private blood bank, so you … save your own cells just in case you might need them down the road,” says McCabe. 

He also noted “that’s a very small part” of the services the cord-blood bank will provide. 

The facility will also save the cord-blood cells for treating some of the blood malignancies that people develop. 

“Our storage facility that would be part of really a worldwide network of similar facilities that are storing cells to be … used around and moved around the world to help people,” says McCabe. 

Cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells that have the potential of being used in the treatment of more than 80 diseases, such as blood cancer and sickle-cell anemia, according to the Upstate web page. 

Stem cells are a class of cells that have the potential to develop into many different or specialized cell types. When transplanted into a patient, stem cells can repair damaged or diseased cells, improving the patient’s health and, in many cases, saving the patient’s life, the web page says.

The cord-blood bank will have a research component. Upstate will use the blood cells for research if it doesn’t collect enough from a given patient to have a “viable product for clinical use,” according to McCabe.

“We will be establishing the relationships with hospitals in a 19-county region to collect the blood samples from their delivery suites, so it’s not only Community, it’s all the hospitals in our region,” he added.

As of 2016, more than 80 diseases have been treated with cord-blood infusions, according to the Upstate Medical web page. 

Cord-blood transplants have been used for more than 15 years in patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia and other blood cancers with no sibling or bone-marrow match. 

Upstate Medical hopes to use cord blood for the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, cerebral palsy, autism and spinal cord injuries.

Contact Reinhardt at


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