WMDA – Advanced Level course


When you have been performing donor and cord blood unit searches for some time and you know the basics, you might start to wonder about the selection methods and the evidence behind those methods and selection criteria. The WMDA Advanced level course can support you to increase your knowledge on subjects like HLA nomenclature, selection of mismatched donors and more complicated search cases for donors and cord blood units. This course is especially valuable for anyone who is more experienced in the selection of unrelated stem cell donors. Some modules are also valuable for people not directly involved in donor selection, like donor recruiters, donor coordinators, transplant coordinators, laboratory technicians, nurses, physicians, or any other donor registry supporting position.

Who can participate?

The WMDA Advanced level course is primarily meant for search coordinators and other professionals facilitating unrelated stem cell donor searches. However, some modules can also be valuable for people with other backgrounds working in the field of stem cell transplantation, as mentioned above. You can also find the target audience within the detailed content descriptions below.

Entrance requirements

Application to the whole WMDA advanced level course can only be accepted if the WMDA Basic level course was successfully completed or when you passed an entrance test. If you would like to take the entrance test, please contact us for more information. For the entrance test, we will invoice € 50,-.

There are no entry requirements when applying for specific modules only.

Course Summary

If you sign up for the total course, you will receive access to 9 modules and a final exam. Each module has a 1-hour lecture accompanied by a handout, a glossary and finishes with a multiple-choice test. Depending on your educational background, you will spend around 3-5 hours per module. The speakers in the WMDA Advanced level course are experts with many years of experience in research, clinical testing, patient care and knowledge of the field of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. At the bottom of this page, you will find the details about the modules. Take a look to see what fits best with your professional expertise.

Course Setup

The WMDA Advanced level course is based on a subscription for the total course, starting anytime. It is possible to purchase separate modules as well. After finishing the modules, you will receive a certificate as proof of your participation.


For EBMT/EFI/WMDA members/staff members of WMDA member registries:
Per module € 75
Total course € 675
For non‐members:
Per module € 141,25
Total course € 1,271

Prices are excluding VAT (21%). An invoice will be sent to all persons who have registered for the course.

How to register for the Advanced level total course or selected modules?

You can register by clicking on the ‘Register yourself’ button below and filling out the form. During the registration procedure, we ask you to provide the details of a supervisor. We need these details to ensure approval of time and costs for your participation.  We will use your supervisor’s details in case we cannot reach you personally.

You can find the terms and conditions here: WMDA Terms and Conditions

Register yourself


You can contact the WMDA office by email: education@wmda.info.




Detailed Content Information

   HLA Nomenclature and typing techniques


Why do we see so many different results on HLA reports, like HLA-A2, A*02:01, A*02: HJWK? In this module, you will learn how the HLA nomenclature works and about the relationship between the different techniques used for HLA typing. Also, the definition of ambiguities is explained and how to deal with those ambiguities in reporting HLA typing results.

Learning objectives

  • Understand how HLA antigens and alleles are named
  • List the different methods used for HLA typing
  • Describe the differences between the methods that are used for HLA typing
  • Recognise the presence of ambiguities in HLA typing results
Speaker Ann-Margaret Little, PhD, SRCS, FRCPath
Affiliation H&I Service, Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, UK
Target Audience   All registry supporting positions.

   Selecting an HLA mismatched donor


Sometimes a matched unrelated stem cell donor is unfortunately not available. In that case, stem cells from a mismatched unrelated donor might be the only option to treat the patient. What are the risks of transplantation with a mismatched stem cell donor? Could it be more beneficial in some diseases to use an HLA mismatched donor over a matched donor due to an anti-leukaemia effect? Which HLA mismatches should be avoided when you select a mismatched donor according to the literature? During this module, all those questions will be discussed and answered.

Learning objectives

  • Apply data from the literature on the impact of HLA mismatching on the patient outcome to donor selection
  • Describe situations that might lead to permissive mismatches
  • Include anti-HLA donor-specific antibody (DSA) information in donor selection
  • Discuss the positive and negative outcomes that might result from mismatching HLA
Speaker Effie Petersdorf, MD
Affiliation Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection, physicians.


   Beyond HLA: What non-HLA characteristics are being considered in donor selection today?


You already know that HLA compatibility is the major selection criterium for matching patients to stem cell donors. However, when you have more than one HLA matched donor, which other non-HLA factors should we take into consideration and which ones are more important than others? Non-HLA factors like gender, CMV, blood group and age will be discussed, including their effects on transplantation outcome.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the issue of donor availability/attrition
  • Recognise non-HLA factors which are frequently considered in unrelated donor selection
  • Recognise the relative importance of each of these non-HLA factors in unrelated donor selection
  • Propose a hierarchy for selection
Speaker Bronwen E. Shaw, MBChB, PhD
Affiliation CIBMTR, Milwaukee, USA
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection, physicians.


   The role of HLA in cord blood transplantation


Selection an unrelated stem cell donor is a different procedure than selecting a cord blood unit. HLA matching is important for both procedures, but for cord blood units the cell dose is also a major selection criteria. The lecture explains the influence on survival of different cell doses and HLA matching as well as the single unit and double-unit cord blood transplantation.

Learning objectives

  • HLA mismatch (locus and antigen/allele level typing)
  • Cell dose and HLA match status
  • Application to two-unit CB transplants
  • Patient antibody against donor HLA (DSA)
  • HLA mismatch direction
  • Non-inherited maternal antigens (NIMA)
  • KIR effect on outcomes for acute leukaemia
Speaker Mary Eapen, MD, MS
Affiliation Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA
CIBMTR, Milwaukee, USA
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection, physicians.


   Non-HLA aspects of umbilical cord blood unit selection


What processes and factors can influence the quality of a cord blood unit? And what is the effect on engraftment? Very useful information when you are involved in the selection of cord blood units for your patients. Also, the interpretation of cord blood unit reports is explained as well as the Eurocord recommendations for cord blood unit selection.

Learning objectives

  • Consider non-HLA factors that influence outcomes in cord blood unit selection
  • Identify the main elements that characterise a qualified CBU
  • Interpret a CBU report and localise the main variables that qualify a CBU
  • Incorporate the latest Eurocord recommendations for CBU selection into decisions
Speaker Sergio Querol, MD, PhD
Affiliation REDMO, Barcelona Cord Blood Bank, Barcelona, Spain
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection, laboratory technicians, physicians.


   Science behind OptiMatch Search and Genotype Prediction Algorithm


Many search coordinators and other professionals involved in donor selection are using the WMDA Search & Match Service. In this programme, a search algorithm, called OptiMatch, predicts the chance that a donor of a cord blood unit will match on HLA with your patient. But how does such an algorithm work and based on what information are the probabilities calculated? You will get more insights of the results shown in the Search & Match Service in this module.

Learning objectives

  • Explain why population genetics information is needed when searching for a donor
  • Understand how the probability of finding a matched donor is incorporated into search algorithms
  • Explain why searches should be initiated with a patient’s high-resolution HLA assignments and not with low-resolution assignments
Speaker Hans-Peter Eberhard, PhD
Affiliation ZKRD, Ulm, Germany
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection, physicians.


   Case studies on donor search I


As professional selecting donors for stem cell transplantations, you’ve probably dealt with several or multiple difficult search cases. During this lecture, 2 complicated cases are presented with their search strategy to select a potential matched donor or cord blood unit.

Learning objectives

  • Evaluate B~C and DRB1~DQB1 associations
  • Apply haplotype and allele frequencies to donor search
  • Develop and apply a strategy for a difficult donor search including an alternate donor search
  • Develop and apply a strategy to screen potential donors to evaluate HLA match
Speaker Jason Dehn, MPH, CHTC
Affiliation BeTheMatch/ NMDP, Minneapolis MN, USA
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection.


  Case studies on donor search II


Do you always look carefully at the HLA typing results of your patient before you start your search for an unrelated stem cell donor? This module shows you the importance of questioning the HLA typing results of the patient especially when the results show multiple rare alleles. Also, the ethnicity of the patient and donors might be useful to predict HLA matching as allele and haplotype frequencies are usually specific for particular populations/ethnicities. With the help of several cases, tips, tricks and pitfalls are presented and explained.

Learning objectives

  • To be able to dissect the HLA typing of a patient in order to identify what potential problems you may encounter in the donor search
  • Be able to select donors which will most likely provide the best-matched donor for the patient
Speaker Machteld Oudshoorn, PhD
Affiliation Matchis Foundation and Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, LUMC, The Netherlands
Target Audience   Search coordinators, professionals involved in donor selection, laboratory technicians.


   Deciding on Stem Cell Source and the Back-up Donor


What do physicians consider when deciding on stem cell source for their patient in need of a stem cell transplant? For stem cell transplantation different sources can be used, like bone marrow, PBSC or cord blood. Which source is most appropriate for a patient, is based on studies on differences in engraftment, Graft versus Host Disease and survival, but also on the disease and disease stage of the patient. However, we should also take into account the risks of collection of the different sources for the donors. The relevance of selecting a back-up donor is discussed as well as the complications we are facing due to the unavailability of donors.

Learning objectives

  • List the various sources of stem cells
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of each stem cell source
  • Understand why a physician might choose a particular source for a specific patient
  • Include selection of a back-up donor in the search process
Speaker William Hwang, MD
Affiliation Singapore Cord Blood Bank, Singapore, Singapore
Target Audience   All registry supporting positions.