McMaster Platelet Immunology Lab

Contact the Lab

McMaster Platelet Immunology Laboratory

1200 Main Street West, HSC 3H42
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N3Z5

T: 905-525-9140 ext 22414
F: 905-525-6359

Contact:

James Smith, Technical Director

Test information on the Hamilton Regional Medical Laboratory

Our Team

Under the direction of Dr. Donald Arnold, Dr. John Kelton and Dr. Ishac Nazy, the laboratory has over 30 years of research into immune mediated platelet disorders. Investigations have produced over 300 journal articles and book chapters in collaboration with other investigators, including Dr. Theodore Warkentin. Landmark studies have been published in high impact journals including The New England Journal of Medicine and Blood that have changed patient management and understanding of platelet disorders.

In collaboration with the McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research the laboratory's bench to bedside research has a direct impact on patient management and health outcomes. The laboratory currently supports 3 core faculty investigators and 9 staff including research coordinators and research assistants. Education is integral to our research, and the laboratory currently supports 3 graduate and 3 undergraduate students.



Dr. Ishac Nazy

Scientific Director

Dr. Ishac Nazy is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, and the Scientific Director of the McMaster Platelet Immunology Laboratory. Dr. Nazy’s research interests are in the specific interactions between antibodies and their target antigens on platelets, leading to thrombocytopenia and/or thrombosis. His translational research with the lab capitalizes on technologies in the fields of immunology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to transfer basic science findings to the clinical practice for improved patient care.



Dr. Donald Arnold

Co-Medical Director

Dr. Donald M. Arnold is a Professor in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University, and Director of the McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research. Dr. Arnold's focus of research is on platelet disorders including immune thrombocytopenia. Other research areas include blood transfusion practices, optimal utilization of blood products, blood safety and novel treatments. Dr. Arnold is the lead investigator for several multicentre clinical trials in Hemostasis and Transfusion Medicine and has built a translational research program in blood disorders that includes a basic serology laboratory. Dr. Arnold has received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canadian Blood Services for his research.



Dr. John Kelton

Co-Medical Director

Dr. John G. Kelton is the co-medical director of the McMaster Platelet Immunology Laboratory and the Executive Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Initiative for Innovation in Healthcare, McMaster University, Hamilton.

Dr. Kelton's research career has focused on thrombocytopenia with a particular focus on pregnant patients with platelet and other bleeding disorders and other thrombocytopenic disorders. His basic research studies have included more than 30 years of study of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) including its pathophysiology and its treatment. Studies investigating approaches to the diagnosis of platelet disorders in pregnant women and drug-induced thrombocytopenia led to the establishment of the Ontario Reference Platelet Typing Laboratory, now called the McMaster Platelet Immunology Laboratory. Recent studies have focused on clotting disorders associated with both COVID-19 vaccines and infections triggered by COVID-19. Dr. Kelton has received numerous awards including honourary degrees, international awards and recognitions for his research, and membership to the Order of Canada.

Lab Staff

James (Jim) Smith

Research Associate/Technical Director
Jim Smith

Jim started his career studying cancer markers using monoclonal antibodies and glycoprotein-specific assays. He brought this technology to the Platelet Immunology Laboratory for investigation of mothers who make antibodies to their babies and cause bleeding. The assays changed how these pregnancies are managed and led to discovery of new antibodies and antigens. Further research led to discovery of the platelet Fc receptor, which plays a major role in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, Jim developed an EIA to measure anti-spike and RBD antibodies to monitor post-infection immunity. Currently Jim is refining PF4-dependent platelet activation assays for confirming diagnosis of VITT.

Jane Moore

Research Coordinator
Jane Moore

Jane has worked in Platelet Immunology for more than 40 years now. During this time, she as played a critical role in developing a bank of frozen serum samples from patients with various platelet disorders, (>1000 heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), >1000 immune thrombocytopenia, >500 thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpura (TTP), >200 COVID/vaccine reactions) which has allowed the McMaster Platelet Immunology Lab to be a global leader in research in these areas. Her research has focused on HIT, TTP, and COVID-19. Jane has coordinated clinical testing and research that has helped advance our understanding of these severe platelet disorders. She has been a resource for technology and information for numerous colleagues, collaborators, students, and staff, and she has been a co-author on over 60 papers.

Rumi Clare

Research Associate/Laboratory Technician
Rumi Clare

Rumi Clare is a Research Associate/Laboratory Technician in the Platelet Immunology Laboratory for the past 20 years. His investigations into ITP, TTP, HIT, COVID-19 and VITT have included techniques such as cell culture, ELISPOTS, flow cytometry, fluorescent microscopy and biolayer-interferometry (BLI). In addition to assisting students with their projects, he also writes scientific journals, research proposals and stakeholder reports.

Jennifer Merkel

Medical Laboratory Technician
Jennifer Merkel

Jennifer attained dual certification with CSMLS and MLPAO after completing the Medical Laboratory Assistant course at Centennial College, with a focus on microbiology. Before seeking change into clinical and research Platelet Immunology, Jennifer worked in Brampton in the microbiology department.

Monique Chiam

Medical Laboratory Technologist
Monique Chiam

Monique Chiam attended McMaster University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Honours Biology in 2009. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she underwent training at The Michener Institute, receiving her Advanced Diploma in Medical Laboratory Sciences in 2013. Monique has since accumulated expertise as a medical laboratory professional in the fields of hematology and transfusion medicine with almost a decade of experience working at a hospital lab in the Waterloo Region. She joined Platelet Immunology in 2021 and now routinely performs various clinical tests that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of platelet immune disorders.

Nikola Ivetic

Postdoctoral Researcher
Nikola Ivetic

Nikola Ivetic is a postdoctoral researcher in the Platelet Immunology Laboratory in McMaster University. His work focuses on the effects antibodies have on platelet function and production as well as megakaryocyte growth and development from a variety of blood disorders including Immune thrombocytopenia, Heparin induced thrombocytopenia as well as Vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia. He completed his doctoral studies at McMaster in 2020 in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical sciences and his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics in from the Department of Biology 2012.

Angela Huynh

Research Scientist
Angela Huynh

Angela is a medical student from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University working full-time as a Research Assistant. She previously finished a PhD with us, working on identifying the difference between pathogenic and non-pathogenic antibodies in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. She is currently working on COVID-19 serology for different studies at McMaster.

Chen Niu

Research Technician
Chen Niu

Chen Niu joined the platelet immunology lab at the beginning of 2022. He finished his undergraduate study in China and moved to Canada to pursue a MSc in Biochemistry at McMaster University. After completing his Masters degree, he worked on a COVID-SPIT Study in Dr. Eric Brown's lab. Currently, his primary role is to express and purify the protein, Platelet Factor 4 (PF4), and its mutants.

Bim Fasanya (MSc., MLA)

Research Technician II
Bim Fasanya

Bim Fasanya is a researcher, molecular biologist, and a medical laboratory assistant. Highly efficient and detailed oriented with advance knowledge of medical testing, molecular techniques, and customer service.

She works at the clinical diagnostic arm of the Platelet Immunology Research Laboratory and performs clinical tests such as Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT), Serotonin Release assay (SRA), Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia (NAIT) etc. She is passionate about clinical research and the health care industry.

Administrative Staff

Raquel Whitwell

Executive Assistant to Dr. John Kelton
Raquel Whitwell

Sarah Weir

Administrative Assistant
Sarah Weir

Graduate Students

Anna-Lise Bissola

Master's Student
Anne-Lise Bissola

Anna-Lise is a MSc Student working in the Platelet Immunology Lab at McMaster University in the Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences Department. She received her BAS (Hons) from the University of Guelph with a dual specialization in biochemistry and history. Anna's research focuses on developing an improved diagnostic assay for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), an immune mediated adverse drug reaction to the anticoagulant heparin. Outside of the lab, Anna is a writing associate for the student-run online journal Health Science Inquiry (HSI) and tutors high school students in both English and Biology.

Mercy Daka

Master's Student
Mercy Daka

Mercy is a MSc student in the Platelet Immunology Lab in McMaster University performing research in Biochemistry. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and graduated with Honors BSc Molecular Biology. Mercy is currently focused on the molecular characteristics of antibodies against PF4/Heparin complexes that lead to Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), an adverse drug reaction that can lead to amputations, strokes, and death.

Michael Hack

Master's Student
Michael Hack

Michael Hack is a MSc student in the Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences Department working in the Platelet Immunology Lab. He received his BSc (Hon) from McMaster University in Biochemistry. Michael's work is focused on detecting and isolating memory B cells pertaining to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). He worked in the Platelet Immunology Lab as a research assistant before starting his MSc, where his main responsibilities were isolation and storage of COVID-19 PBMCs and database management. Prior to joining the lab, Michael worked as an apprentice electrician and gathered data for Statistics Canada.

Alumni

John Vrbensky

John Vrbensky

John Vrbensky completed his PhD in the Medical Sciences program in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He obtained his BSc (Hon) from McMaster University in Biology. John's work focused on the role of autoreactive CD8+ T cells in immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). In addition to his laboratory work, John was the VP of the McMaster Medical Sciences Student Association (MMSSA) and the Mentorship Liaison for the Medical Sciences Mentorship Group (MSMG).

Andrea Hucik

Andrea Hucik

Andrea completed her M.Sc. in the Department of Biochemistry, where she studied antibody binding characteristics in immune thrombocytopenia using biolayer interferometry. She finished her undergraduate degree in Biological Science at the University of Guelph and completed her fourth-year thesis in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Jennifer Cui

Jennifer Cui

Jennifer received her MSc in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.

Research Interests: The immune profile of individuals that lead to heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), a rare drug induced immune reaction, in patients who receive heparin in a surgical setting.

Sabrina Shrestha

Sabrina Shrestha

Sabrina received her MSc in the Blood and Vasculature research field of the Medical Sciences Graduate Program. Her research specifically focused on identifying platelet specific autoantibody secreting B cells in the peripheral blood and the bone marrow compartments of ITP patients.

Aside from lab work, she was involved in facilitating various academic services to the graduate student community as the VP of the Research Methods Club. She also has previous research experience in developmental neurobiology of the Drosophila visual system in the Erclik Lab at the University of Toronto Mississauga.