Jellinek Memorial Awards

Dr. Harold Kalant
Bio-sketch for Harold KALANT


Jellinek Memoral Award Recipient 1972 Epidemiology and pharmacology

A native of Toronto, Canada, Harold Kalant received his M.D. degree at the University of Toronto (UofT) in 1945, and then took further clinical training in internal medicine. In 1955 he obtained his Ph.D. in pathological Chemistry, followed by postdoctoral work in biochemistry in Cambridge University (UK). In 1959 he returned to the Uof T to begin over four decades of research and teaching in the Department of Pharmacology, where he is currently Professor Emeritus. In the same year, he established the biological research program at the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario (now a division of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) where he is now Director Emeritus for biobehavioral research.


Since 1959, his research has focussed on the pharmacological actions of alcohol, cannabis, opioids and other psychoactive drugs, including the mechanisms of tolerance, dependence, and organic pathology resulting from excessive use. Among the major contributions arising from this work has been the recognition of the cardinal importance of interactions among behavioural, environmental and pharmacological factors in the development of tolerance and dependence. This work has demonstrated the existence and importance of central neuroadaptive processes common to alcohol and a variety of other drugs, rather than the drug-specific adaptations that were formerly thought to be the basis of tolerance. In his later work, the emphasis turned more towards the nature of the neuronal processes that reinforce drug-taking behavior, and that increase the risk of dependence.


In other work, in collaboration with Yedy Israel and Hector Orrego, he examined the consequences of ethanol metabolism in the liver, including the production of hypoxia in the perivenous portion of the liver lobule. This work led to the hypoxic theory of liver cell necrosis, and to the clinical trial of propylthiouracil (PTU) in the treatment of alcoholic liver disease.


For over thirty years, he has had an active interest in the role of scientific knowledge in the shaping of public policy on drug use, and on the prevention and treatment of drug abuse and dependence. In collaboration with Dr. Oriana Josseau Kalant, he has written extensively on this topic, and taken part in the public discussion of it, as an invited witness before parliamentary committees, a participant in media debates on it, and as an expert advisor to various governmental and non-governmental bodies, including World Health Organization expert committees, Health Canada, Justice Canada, provincial agencies, scientific societies, and treatment agencies, including the US National Institutes on Alcohol (NIAAA) and Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Stanford (CA) Addiction Research Foundation. He is a founding member and a past president of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.


Over the course of his career to date, he has authored or edited 23 books and over 370 journal articles, book chapters and reports. He has served as an associate or field editor for several journals, and as a meber of the editorial boards of 11 noted scientific journals, including Psychopharmacology, Alcohol, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, and Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior.


Among the honors he has received over the years are the Raleigh Hills Foundation Gold Medal Award for excellence in research on alcoholism (1981), the 4th Annual Research Award of the Society for Research on Alcoholism (1981), the Nathan B. Eddy Medal of the Committee on Problems of Drug Abuse (1986), the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (1995) and the Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Award of the National Institutes of Health (2002). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and the first Honorary Fellow of the British Society for the Study of Addiction.

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