McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster hematologists take prestigious award for research

Published: November 16, 2015
Ted Warkentin and John Kelton
Ted Warkentin (left) and John Kelton have been awarded the 2015 Prix Galien Canada prize for their research on heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by an allergic drug reaction to the blood thinner, heparin.

Research partners John Kelton and Ted Warkentin have won the 2015 Prix Galien Canada prize, the highest award for Canadian scientists who have made significant advances in pharmaceutical research.

Both are hematologists and professors of medicine, as well as pathology and molecular medicine, at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine of McMaster University. They are also clinicians for Hamilton Health Sciences.

Kelton and Warkentin won the award, which recognizes outstanding achievements of pharmaceutical research and development, for their research on heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by an allergic drug reaction to the blood thinner, heparin.

Thousands of Canadians receive heparin to permit surgeries such as cardiac bypass or as treatments for blood clots, but HIT can develop and cause heart attacks, strokes, catastrophic loss of limbs and even death. 

Kelton and Warkentin have worked for more than 30 years in the diagnosis, characterization, treatment, and most recently, the prevention of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). 

The definitive test to diagnose the disorder was created by Kelton and this continues to be used around the world. Using these laboratory methods, Warkentin and Kelton pioneered the approaches, prevention and treatment strategies which are now used.  Together they have authored more than 250 publications on HIT, including 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine. One of these has more than 2,000 citations, and they have over ten publications that have been cited more than 500 times.

Now recognized as the world's leading researchers on the subject, their work has led to a profound enhancement in patient outcomes and a dramatic reduction in the frequency of HIT.

"Ted and I are grateful for this recognition and we are honoured to be recognized alongside previous Prix Galien winners who have done so much to improve the health of Canadians," said Kelton, who is also the dean and vice-president of McMaster's Faculty of Health Sciences

He noted: "It is bold of the jury to select us because our work has been on responding to serious consequences caused by a drug, rather than the development of a new drug."

Warkentin added: "Although our research has focused on a drug reaction, in recent years our findings have given insights into unusual types of blood clotting that occur in other diseases. For example, we wondered why blood clots can occur in critically-ill patients with infection or shock that result in limb gangrene that requires amputations. Our research suggests new treatment approaches might be able to prevent such limb losses from occurring."

The Prix Galien Canada, sponsored by Innovation Life Canada, was created in 1994 to promote significant advances in pharmaceutical research.

Two McMaster professors of medicine have previously taken the Prix Galien Canada award: Salim Yusuf in 2001 and Jack Hirsh in 1999.

Kelton and Warkentin receive the award at a gala in Montreal on Nov. 17.


Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0