Spotlight on the Chronic GVHD (Graft vs. Host Diseases) Research Laboratory at CFRI

The Canadian National Transplant Research Program is supporting a project led by Dr. Kirk Schultz, Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology/BMT, Department of Pediatrics.  Dr. Schultz’s team is working to create a national platform to support clinical trials, a national transplant registry effort and a national effort to link biological samples with patient outcomes. The registry data will enable researchers to develop better tests to identify the risk of rejection and infection, among other clinical applications.

BC Children’s Hospital is very fortunate to be one of the leaders in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT).  The Transplantation and Cancer Immunology section of the Childhood Cancer and Blood Research Cluster of the CFRI includes the Chronic GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease) Research Laboratory.

Chronic GVHD is the primary cause of death and morbidity after HSCT survivors.  HSCT is the only life saving therapy available for children presenting with immune and blood system disorders, as well as the only established immune therapy for children with leukemia and lymphomas.

The work of the laboratory has positioned the CFRI and BC Children’s Hospital as one of a handful of world leaders in understanding the biology of chronic GVHD and developing therapeutic biomarkers; it is the only one in Canada.  The work has helped both children and adults, demonstrating how research focused on children can help everyone.  The work of the group is so highly esteemed, that Dr. Schultz has twice been asked to chair the Chronic GVHD biomarker working group of the chronic GVHD Consensus Consortium organized by the National Institutes of Health in the United States. 

The laboratory receives samples from 10 Canadian BMT centers, 25 US centers, as well as centers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Australia and New Zealand.  Most patients are from the Canadian BMT Group, the Children’s Oncology Group, and Pediatric BMT Consortium clinical trials. The laboratory has received two NIH R01 funding grants in the past,  and is currently funded by two CIHR operating grants as well as a number of smaller grants.