Dr. Harold Atkins

Dr. Harold Atkins
Dr. Harold Atkins
Cross-Appointed Member, Associate Professor | Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | Attending Physician
Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, The Ottawa Hospital

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | 501 Smyth Road, Box 926 Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6
613-737-7700 ext. 70341


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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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 and a scientist in the Center for Innovative Cancer Research 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.

  • Kekre N, Hay KA, Webb JR, Mallick R, Balasundaram M, Sigrist MK, Clement AM, Nielsen JS, Quizi J, Yung E, Brown SD, Dreolini L, Waller DD, Smazynski J, Gierc NS, Loveless BC, Clark K, Dyer T, Hogg R, McCormick L, Gignac M, Bell S, Chapman DM, Bond D, Yong S, Fung R, Lockyer HM, Hodgson V, Murphy C, Subramanian A, Wiebe E, Yoganathan P, Medynski L, Vaillan DC, Black A, McDiarmid S, Kennah M, Hamelin L, Song K, Narayanan S, Rodrigo JA, Dupont S, Hawrysh T, Presseau J, Thavorn K, Lalu MM, Fergusson DA, Bell JC, Atkins H, Nelson BH, Holt RA. CLIC-01: Manufacture and distribution of non-cryopreserved CAR-T cells for patients with CD19 positive hematologic malignancies. Front Immunol. 2022 Dec 19;13:1074740.
  • Puyade M, Brunet F, Carolina R, Fergusson N, Makedonov I, Freedman MS, Atkins H. Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Multiple Sclerosis, the Ottawa Protocol. Curr Protoc. 2022 May;2(5):e437.
  • Chruscinski A, Juvet S, Moshkelgosha S, Renner E, Lilly L, Selzner N, Bredeson C, Grant D, Adeyi O, Fischer S, Demetris AJ, Zhang J, Epstein M, Macarthur M, Clement AM, Khalili K, Allan D, Altouri S, Bence-Bruckler I, Cattral M, Fulcher J, Galvin Z, Ghanekar A, Greig P, Huebsch L, Humar A, Kew A, Kekre N, Kim TK, McDiarmid S, Martin L, McGilvray I, Sabloff M, Sapisochin G, Selzner M, Smith R, Tinckam K, Yi TJ, Levy G, Atkins H. Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Liver Transplant Recipients With Recurrent Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: A Pilot Study. Transplantation. 2022 Mar 1;106(3):562-574.
  • Atkins HL, Bowman M, Allan D, Anstee G, Arnold DL, Bar-Or A, Bence-Bruckler I, Birch P, Bredeson C, Chen J, Fergusson D, Halpenny M, Hamelin L, Huebsch L, Hutton B, Laneuville P, Lapierre Y, Lee H, Martin L, McDiarmid S, O'Connor P, Ramsay T, Sabloff M, Walker L, Freedman MS. Immunoablation and autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation for aggressive multiple sclerosis: a multicentre single-group phase 2 trial. Lancet. 2016 Aug 6;388(10044):576-85.
  • 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 Neurol. 2016 Jun 1;73(6):652-8.

Research interests

  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for severe refractory autoimmune diseases
  • Stem Cell Transplantation for organ graft tolerance
  • Cancer Virotherapy