The Prix Galien - Research 2016 has been awarded to Dr. Philip F. Halloran OC, MD, PhD, FRCPC, FRSC
Dr. Philip Halloran is a Professor of Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of Alberta and the Director of the Alberta Transplant Applied Genomics Centre. He obtained his MD and residency training at the University of Toronto and his PhD at the University of London before returning to the University of Toronto as a junior faculty member. He was recruited to the University of Alberta as the Director of Nephrology and has had a distinguished career in the study of organ transplantation with a remarkable publication record.
His contributions have focussed on six areas including:
1. The identification of gene regulation in graft rejection (supported by a Genome Canada grant in 2004 with matching funds from the pharmaceutical industry) and the application of that knowledge to develop the Molecular Diagnostic System (MMDx), licensed to Thermo Fisher. Using microarrays, biopsies can be rapidly assessed for rejection and injury to enable the application of appropriate therapeutic strategies. MMDx is now being applied outside of organ transplantation in a variety of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and melanoma.
2. The description of antibody-mediated rejection. Dr. Halloran was the first to recognize antibody-mediated rejection(ABMR) as a microcirculation phenotype, thus guiding the development of the diagnostic criteria for ABMR. His work has enabled recognition that much of ABMR has been missed during clinical care. He is now describing the molecular mechanisms that underlie this process.
3. Insights into injury and progression in transplantation and primary disease. Using animal models, he has demonstrated how immune recognition, evoking increased expression of transplantation antigens and inflammatory mediators, can create organ injury. This work has applications beyond organ transplantation, including areas such as wounds and chronic diseases.
4. Impact in immunosuppressive drug treatment. He demonstrated that cyclosporine acts in vivo at sub-saturating concentrations to inhibit its target calcineurin. This process is rapidly reversible, explaining why blood concentrations of cyclosporine are vital to therapeutic management. He has played a major role in the clinical trials of a variety of new immunosuppressive agents used in transplantation, including serving as the lead in the development and presentation of CellCept. And his review articles on immunosuppressive drugs remain the definitive materials in this area.
5. Institutional leadership and innovation. Dr. Halloran’s access to the executives of Roche enabled him to encourage the establishment and development of the Roche Organ Transplant Research Foundation, an independent Swiss charity operating under a Board of Directors that is an important source of funds globally for the study of organ transplantation. He also participated in the creation of the American Journal of Transplantation and served as the founding editor-in-chief. At the University of Alberta, he has assumed several major leadership roles.
6. Development of the next generation of clinical and scientific leaders. His clinical and research fellows as well as his former graduate students are now recognized as leaders throughout the world including at the University of Alberta, elsewhere in Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Australia. Dr. Halloran is a deserving winner of the 2016 Prix Galien Research Award because his work has married the academic and the pharmaceutical industrial worlds and has had global impact.
Photo: Dr. Philip Halloran, winner of the Prix Galien Research Award 2016 and Dr. Richard Fedorak, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of Alberta.