Bleeding disorder experts named researchers of the year
Queen’s pathology and molecular medicine professors Paula James and David Lillicrap were named Researchers of the Year by the National Hemophilia Foundation in Chicago for their work in helping to improve the lives of patients living with bleeding disorders.
The pair earned the distinction for their ongoing clinical, translational and basic studies of the inherited bleeding disorders – hemophilia and von Willebrand disease. Both conditions prevent the blood from clotting, causing abnormal bleeding.
"It’s an important recognition of the good things that are happening here at Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital," says Dr. Lillicrap, who is also an attending physician at KGH. "The things we’re doing will impact the quality of diagnosis and quality of life and treatment of these patients.”
Dr. Lillicrap says the mix of basic and clinical research being carried out at Queen’s and KGH is unique in Canada and well-known around the world.
"All of our research focuses on improving people’s lives," says Dr. James. "That means coming up with better diagnoses as well as a better understanding of the diseases so we can develop better treatments, and perhaps even a cure."
They conduct their patient-focused research at the South Eastern Ontario Regional Inherited Bleeding Disorders Program at KGH and the Molecular Hemostasis Laboratory at Queen’s. Drs. James and Lillicrap are co-directors of both.
In the lab setting, Dr. Lillicrap leads a team of 20 researchers working on a potential cure for hemophilia using gene therapy.
Dr. James’ research is focused on helping patients with von Willebrand disease, which is not as well-known as hemophilia but affects many more people.
"The disease causes milder symptoms that people don’t often like to talk about, such as heavy menstrual cycles," says Dr. James, who is also an attending physician at KGH. "A huge part of our research now is trying to improve and develop tools to help with the identification of affected patients."
Dr. James notes that only 3,500 of the estimated 35,000 people in Canada with von Willebrand disease know they have the condition.