EFI Medal Laureate 2021: Andrea Harmer

This year, the EFI Executive Committee decided to recognize and award the contribution of a person who has been synonym for EFI accreditation program for more than ten years, Andrea Harmer.

Andrea started her career in H&I in 1988 as a research assistant in Tissue Typing Laboratory at Guy’s Hospital in London undertaking a project to develop flow cytometry crossmatching for renal transplantation. She continued as a clinical scientist with primary responsibility for antibody testing and crossmatching and clinical liaison with the paediatric renal unit. After defending her PhD thesis entitled “Significance of Antibody Production in Human Renal Transplantation” whilst at Guy’s, she completed the UK higher specialist qualification Membership of the Royal College of Pathologists (MRCPath) in H&I. In 2001 she moved to Sheffield to become the Director of the H&I laboratory in the National Blood Service Sheffield Centre providing services for renal and stem cell transplantation, transfusion & immunogenetics . She was trained as an EFI inspector in 2002 and in 2003, and the Sheffield laboratory became the second lab in the UK, and the first in England, to gain EFI accreditation. Andrea was appointed National Head of H&I, NHS Blood & Transplant in 2013, becoming responsible for a network of six H&I laboratories within the English blood service which provide services for seven adult & three paediatric renal transplant programmes, two cardiothoracic transplant programmes, eleven HSCT programmes, as well as transfusion and immunogenetics testing.

Her involvement with EFI has run in parallel with her engagement in the UK by first joining the Standards Committee from 2000 till 2008. In addition to being an EFI inspector she served as the Commissioner for EFI Accreditation Region 3 (UK & Ireland) from 2004 till 2011, when she was nominated the Chair of the Accreditation Committee (2011-2021). Working as a closely connected team with Ed Petershofen, Luca Mascaretti and Sonja Geelhoed in the Accreditation Permanent Commission, a lot of routine and unique tasks, invisible to others, were completed. Andrea has been a systematic and convincing teacher when educating laboratories seeking for accreditation within Europe and around the world. Aside from that, she has been very pleasant work and travel companion.

Apart from EFI, Andrea has been active in BSHI & RCPath over the years, including serving as the Chair of the Royal College of Pathologists H&I Specialty Advisory Committee (2009-2012) and as the Chair of BSHI (2017-2020). She was involved through BSHI in writing Guidelines for antibody detection in renal transplantation and for HLA testing in HSCT. She has always been interested in Education & Training including being an examiner for the RCPath.

EFI accreditation could not have had a more fair and correct Chair, that has been capable to listen and hear voices from all around the Europe and beyond. No matter how difficult and complicated the subject was, we were certain Andrea would approach it professionally with genuine intention to find consensus within the Accreditation Committee and help a commissioner, an inspector or a laboratory.

Since EFI conference in Glasgow had to be a virtual event, we all regret that EFI president, Joannis Mytillineos, was not able to hand over EFI medal to laureate Andrea Harmer and that we could not show our appreciation to her face to face. However, Brendan Clarke was kind enough to travel from Leeds to her home and excellently represented EFI, handing over the undoubtedly very much deserved medal to Andrea.

Blanka Vidan Jeras