Dr. Lorne Tyrrell MD PhD succeeded Dr. Henry Friesen as Chair of the Gairdner Board of Directors on November 25, 2009. Before joining the Board in April 2009, he was a long time member of the Medical Advisory Board (MAB).
Dr. Tyrrell has focused his research since 1986 on viral hepatitis. His work on the development of antiviral therapy was supported by CIHR and Glaxo Canada. It resulted in the licensing of the first oral antiviral agent to treat chronic hepatitis B infection – lamivudine – in 1998. Today, lamivudine is licensed in over 170 countries worldwide for the treatment of HBV.
In 1998, Dr. Tyrrell collaborated with Drs. N. Kneteman and David Mercer to develop the first non-primate animal to support hepatitis C replication. This animal model is mice with human/mouse chimeric livers. This animal model supports HCV, HBV, and malaria replication.
Dr. Tyrrell is now focusing on the viral and host genetic factors that lead to chronic HBV or HCV infection. The mouse model is proving very useful in these studies. From these studies we should develop a better understanding of why some people clear HCV infection and others become chronic carriers. These results may also provide accurate predictions of the patient’s response to current antiviral therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.
For his studies on viral hepatitis, Dr. Tyrrell has received numerous prestigious awards including the Gold Medal of the Canadian Liver Foundation (2000), the Alberta Order of Excellence (2000), Officer of the Order of Canada (2002), Fellow of the Royal Society (2004), FNG Starr Award of the Canadian Medical Association (2004), and the Principal Award of the Manning Foundation (2005).