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Contact Information

Harold Atkins, MD, FRCPC
613 737-7700 70341
hatkins@ohri.ca

501 Smyth Road, Box 926
Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6

Harold Atkins

Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Attending Physician, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program
The Ottawa Hospital
Associate Professor, Clinical Hematology
University of Ottawa

Research Interests

My clinical practice revolves around treatment and care of patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The clinical tools that I use and the problems faced by my patients has fueled my research interests. My current projects have evolved from curiosity in understanding both the regenerative and immunotherapic aspects of transplantation and include:

a. Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for severe refractory autoimmune diseases.
I have been the Co-PI of a Phase II trial of autologous hematpoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for the treatment of poor prognosis MS. This trial has prolonged follow-up and a manuscript is prepared for submission to a leading medical journal. The trial was funded by grant support from the MS Society of Canada. Ongoing clinical research activity explores the role of HSCT in other autoimmune neurological diseases including Myasthenia Gravis, Stiff Person Syndrome and CIDP.
(See: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01099930)

b. Stem Cell Transplantation for organ graft tolerance.
The ASCOTT trial (Autologous hematopoietic Stem Cell transplantation in Organ Transplant Trial) builds upon the experience using HSCT to regenerate a naïve and tolerant immune system for patients with severe autoimmune disease. In collaboration with Dr. Gary Levy, a clinical trial protocol has been developed to explore whether autologous HSCT can create a state of tolerance in liver allograft recipients. This is being performed at the Ottawa Hospital and at the Multi-organ Transplant program at University Health Network.
(see: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02549586)

c. Cancer Virotherapy
I have a long standing collaboration with Dr. John Bell, exploring the role of virotherapy for the treatment of cancer. I have been particularly interested in using virus infected leukemia cell vaccines to create a personalized anti-leukemia immune response and in collaboration with Drs J. Bell and N Kekre are building a preclinical package and developing a clinical trial to understand the role of infected cell vaccines in the treatment of patients with acute leukemia and other blood cancers.

Brief Biography

Harold Atkins MD is a physician of the Ottawa Hospital Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, a scientist in the Center for Innovative Cancer Research and the medical director of the Regenerative Medicine Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

He received his Bachelor of Medical Science degree and Medical Degree from the University of Ottawa followed by a rotating internship year at the Victoria General Hospital in Victoria BC. Specialty training in Internal Medicine was done at the University of Ottawa. Clinical and research fellowships in Hematology, Stem Cell Transplantation and Experimental Hematology followed at the University of Washington and at the Ontario Cancer Institute.

He specializes in the management of patients requiring stem cell transplantation and he has spearheaded the use of stem cell transplantation for immune repair to treat patients with severe autoimmune diseases, particularly Multiple Sclerosis. He has also developed clinical trials exploring the role of dose escalated radiation therapy to treat refractory blood cancers. His laboratory research includes a longstanding and fruitful collaboration with Dr. John Bell developing oncolytic viruses particularly for the treatment of hematological cancers as personalized cancer cell vaccines.

Selected Publications

Bryant A, Atkins H, Pringle CE, Allan D, Anstee G, Bence-Bruckler I, Hamelin L, Hodgins M, Hopkins H, Huebsch L, McDiarmid S, Sabloff M, Sheppard D, Tay J, Bredeson C. Myasthenia Gravis Treated with Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation,. JAMA Neurology (accepted)

Appelbaum FR, Anasetti C, Antin JH, Atkins H, Davies S, Devine S, Giralt S, Heslop H, Laport G, Lee SJ, Logan B, Pasquini M, Pulsipher M, Stadtmauer E, Wingard JR, Horowitz MM. Blood and marrow transplant clinical trials network state of the Science Symposium 2014. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015 Feb;21(2):202-24.

Sanders S, Bredeson C, Pringle CE, Martin L, Allan D, Bence-Bruckler I, Hamelin L, Hopkins HS, Sabloff M, Sheppard D, Tay J, Huebsch L, Atkins HL. Autologous stem cell transplantation for stiff person syndrome: two cases from the Ottawa blood and marrow transplant program. JAMA Neurol. 2014 Oct;71(10):1296-9.

Conrad DP, Tsang J, Maclean M, Diallo JS, Le Boeuf F, Lemay CG, Falls TJ, Parato KA, Bell JC, Atkins HL. Leukemia cell-rhabdovirus vaccine: personalized immunotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Jul 15;19(14):3832-43.

Atkins HL, Freedman MS. Hematopoietic stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis: top 10 lessons learned. Neurotherapeutics. 2013 Jan;10(1):68-76.

Diseases, conditions and populations of interest


Blood cancer; Multiple sclerosis; Myasthenia gravis; Stiff person syndrome


Research and clinical approaches


Basic research; Cell therapy; Clinical trials; Immunotherapy; Regenerative medicine; Regenerative medicine; Translational research; Transplantation; Viral therapy