McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

MD takes new LEO Pharma chair

Published: February 25, 2011
Mark Crowther
Mark Crowther, professor of medicine, pathology and molecular medicine

Dr. Mark Crowther’s appointment as the inaugural holder of the LEO Pharma Chair in Thromboembolism is seen as a stepping stone for discovering new ways of treating and managing deadly blood clots.

The appointment to the position supported by a $2-million investment from the Canadian division of the Danish-based pharmaceutical giant, Leo Pharma, was announced today.

"It is a great honour," said Crowther, professor of medicine, pathology and molecular medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University and director of the division of hematology and thromboembolism.

"The chair provides funding for research activity for salary support while building research capacity at McMaster and St. Joseph’s Healthcare. Hopefully, it will lead to improvements in the way we diagnose and manage DVT (deep vein thrombosis)," Crowther said.

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the pelvis, leg or arm. It can lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism if the clot blocks the blood supply to the lung.  DVT occurs in more than 50,000 Canadians every year.

The chair announcement comes just days before the start of DVT Awareness Month in March, a month designated to increase awareness and knowledge of a killer disease which the general public knows little about.

Crowther regularly sees instances of a lack of awareness among both the public and health care professionals. "There are many, many people who I see in the clinic who have symptoms for days, weeks and months. They don’t know anything about this. They don’t seek medical attention, or worse, they go to see their primary care physician or the emergency department and their symptoms aren’t recognized. Some die. Some get worsening symptoms. Others keep going back to the emergency department."

The irony is there are many excellent treatments to manage blood clots if they are diagnosed correctly and quickly, he said.

Crowther has a variety of research projects underway which are designed to explore new anti-thrombotic drugs, and to improve the way current drugs are used.

He is testing the hypothesis that daily, fixed, small doses of Vitamin K may improve the quality of the commonly used blood thinner, warfarin, an advance which might mean both fewer laboratory tests and few complications for patients.  He is also working on the development of warfarin guidelines which will be accompanied by a summary with evidence-based recommendations.

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