Investigating the genes and proteins behind bleeding disorders

Investigating the genes and proteins behind bleeding disorders

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research awards substantial funding to professor David Lillicrap.

By Anne Craig

September 5, 2017


Queen’s University professor and one of the leading researchers in common inherited bleeding disorders David Lillicrap has received a $3.55 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Foundation Grant.

“This funding will be used to support our program of research focused on the molecular science of the two most common inherited bleeding disorders – hemophilia and von Willebrand disease,” says Dr. Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine). “These studies involve the application of a range of molecular approaches to understand the pathological basis, enhance the detection and improve the treatment of these conditions.” 

David Lillicrap has earned a Foundation Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Lillicrap’s research focuses on the genes and proteins that are deficient or defective in hemophilia and von Willebrand disease. Both conditions are lifelong bleeding disorders in which blood doesn’t clot correctly. Until recently, the treatment of these disorders has involved frequent injections of the missing clotting factor protein, but work conducted by Dr. Lillicrap’s group has shown that gene therapy is a feasible approach to deliver long-term benefits and a possible cure of the bleeding problem.

“Dr. Lillicrap’s research has led to innovative strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of the world's most commonly-inherited bleeding diseases,” says Dr. John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “His novel findings, now being applied to clinical care worldwide, are improving the quality of life for patients with inherited bleeding disorders, and this significant investment from the CIHR will help to further this work.”

Dr. Lillicrap says the funding is the most significant operating grant his laboratory has received and will allow him to establish and complete more long-range goals. It will also enhance his work with the Queen's Clinical and Molecular Hemostasis Research Group, run by Dr. Lillicrap and Paula James.

“Many of our studies involve interactions between our two laboratories and include the exchange of knowledge, reagents and valuable research resources,” says Dr. Lillicrap. “We believe that our program is successful in part because we have complementary areas of research interest - the Lillicrap group is focused more on basic/molecular aspects of these diseases and the James group more on clinical and population based research.”

“Both groups share an overlapping interest in certain aspects of molecular and cellular pathology - one example being how blood vessel lining cells (endothelial cells) function in these bleeding diseases.”

He joins three other Queen’s faculty members who currently hold Foundation grants. The grants are designed to contribute to a sustainable foundation of established health research leaders.

For more information visit the CIHR website.

Health Sciences