Dr Chris Whittington

Dr. Chris Whittington was born in Australia in 1955. She graduated with a medical degree from the University of Queensland, Australia in 1979. Dr. Whittington has practised medicine in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and has lived in Canada since 1985. She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia and practices in Abbotsford, British Columbia where she lives with her two sons. Dr. Whittington is a Past President of the British Columbia College of Family Physicians. She is currently engaged in ongoing research into hereditary hemochromatosis.

Dr. Whittington’s interest in hemochromatosis began when her mother was diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis in the early 1990′s. At this time the disorder was still thought to be rare. As a consequence of this diagnosis her uncle, aunt, several cousins and eventually her brother were found to also suffer from hereditary hemochromatosis. Dr. Whittington’s mother was one of the first people in the world to have genetic testing for hereditary hemochromatosis in 1997. Her mother was found to carry two copies of the C282Y mutation of the HFE gene. Dr Whittington’s mother is of complete Irish extraction. Celtic heritage is not uncommon in those with hereditary hemochromatosis. The diagnosis on Dr Whittington’s mother, done well before hemochromatosis became a much better known disorder, was no doubt due greatly to the brilliant work and research on the disorder that had been ongoing for decades in Queensland, Australia.

In the summer of 2001 Dr. Whittington went back to Queensland to do research and study with Professor Lawrie Powell. Professor Powell is probably the foremost authority on hereditary hemochromatosis in the world. It was he who convinced the world that hereditary hemochromatosis was a genetic disease in 1989 and provided the impetus for the work that was to lead to the cloning of the HFE gene in 1996. Since that time the understanding of hemochromatosis and iron metabolism has been propelled forward at an incredible rate. That research trip formed the basis of her book Ironic Health available from this website.

Dr Whittington has published numerous papers on hemochromatosis. Her research is original and often clinically based. She draws her ideas for research from her patients, colleagues and lay persons who have an interest in hemochromatosis. Her mother’s Irish heritage has been the basis of original research.

Some of the papers Dr Whittington has written on hemochromatosis and related disorders include:

  • A Gene Pool for Haemochromatosis Research: Irish Immigrants in Australia.
  • Irish Population at Risk of Haemochromatosis.
  • Review Article: Haemochromatosis.
  • Genetics of Hereditary Hemochromatosis.
  • Interaction Between HFE Mutations and Beta Thalassemia Trait(s).
  • The C282Y mutation may have been positively selected as it mitigates the infertility of celiac disease.
  • Was the C282Y mutation an Irish Gaelic mutation that the Vikings help disseminate?
  • Hypotransferrinemia obscuring the diagnosis of C282Y hemochromatosis.
  • Correlation of arthritis of the second and third metacarpophalangeal joints with severity of iron overload in C282Y homozygous hemochromatosis.
  • H63D homozygous hemochromatosis does not appear to be protective of the anemia of celiac disease: a case report.
  • Two cases of latent porphyria cutanea tarda presenting as hyperferritinemia.